Air Force baseball will hand the ball to freshman pitcher Evan Floyd to open the season against Army on Friday.
This isn't just any freshman, obviously. Floyd earned numerous high school All-America honors in Pensacola, Fla., and has lived up to those expectations through fall scrimmages and preseason practice.
"He's about as good as we've ever had here," coach Mike Kazlausky said of Floyd, whose father served as an Air Force pilot. "His stuff right now is better than Griffin Jax's when he was a freshman. For sure."
Floyd can run his fastball up to about 93 mph, and he has a demeanor Kazlausky says will help him as he is immediately thrust into the starting rotation.
As for the pitcher Kazlausky compared Floyd to, Jax was drafted in the 12th round out of high school and then went to the Minnesota Twins last year in the third round of the MLB Draft after one of the most successful careers in Air Force history.
Jax is fine with the comparison.
"They've compared him a lot to me when I first came in, but I think he's better than I was as a freshman," said Jax, who is no longer eligible as a senior because he signed professionally but has still worked out with the team. "I think I threw harder, but he's got better stuff. I really only had a fastball early in my career, but he's got a fastball, curveball, changeup all that he can throw for strikes that will help him out a ton at the college level."
"I've tried to help him out with a few things and I think it's really going to click for him this season and he's going to be a big arm for Air Force."