Each week, the Tallahassee Democrat will feature a Q&A with a former prep athlete in the Tallahassee area. Thomas Nicoll, a former Leon High pitcher, completed his first year of baseball at Tallahassee Community College. While in high school, he was an All-Big Bend second team selection his senior year and pitched for the Tallahassee Post 13 American Legion during summer ball.
During a recent conversation, Nicoll talked about the struggles of college compared to high school and discussed his future beyond TCC.
Question: Which is harder, the first year playing baseball in college or in high school?
Answer: “Probably the first year of college because there is a lot more talent. The kids are picked from places for a reason. In high school, I was like the little kid of the bunch and I wasn’t as good as everyone. Then I actually started working and made myself better. I was eventually as good as some of the older kids. When I got to TCC, I was kind of as good as some of them.”
Q: First season at TCC, you go 1-2 with a 5.04 ERA and strike out 22 batters in 30 innings. How do you feel like that season went?
A: “It wasn’t as good as I had hoped, but it was an alright year. There were a number of times I got hit. I got hit a lot more than I did in high school because of more talent.”
Q: What are some of the adjustments that you are making so that you won’t get hit as much?
A: “Location. I was just throwing it pretty much. I wasn’t a pitcher. I am working on my off speed more and my location more. I was pretty much a thrower and I overpowered kids in high school. Getting hit showed me that I needed to work harder.”
Q: In college, what type of training are you doing in the weight room and beyond that you have never done before?
A: “I am doing more bands, upper body and arm work outs. I am keeping my stamina up by running and keeping my legs in shape, so I can use more of my body instead of just toying with my arm.”
Q: How has that helped with your with pitching? What is your velocity and breaking ball speed?
A: “You can predict where your ball is going a lot easier and how hard you are going to throw the ball. You have more control over it. You’re not guessing, wondering if you’re going to be throwing really hard one day or really soft the next. You’re going to keep in shape and actually throw the same speed each day and continue to gain velocity. My velocity has jumped to mid-to-upper 80s (miles per hour), topping out at 90. Breaking ball is 80-83, and my change-up is about a 75 mile per hour pitch.”
Q: Coming off that so-so first year, how do you set your goals for the next season?
A: “Get more playing time and strike outs, get people to hit the ball more to my teammates so I can get outs instead of leaving runners on base, and stop the bleeding when people are getting hits. In high school, I wanted to get to the next level, which was going to college, showing people I could play at the next level past college, and being as dominant as I was in high school. It was an eye-opener. It showed me that I have to work even harder than I did in high school. I’m trying to set myself up to be as good as I can be.”
Q: Let’s say you have a really dominant year next season. Do you go through the draft and consider minor league baseball or do you go to a university?
A: “I would see what the offer is from the draft and see what college is offering me. My hope is to go to either FSU, Miami or Florida.”
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