Miami Baseball Preview

Miami Baseball Preview

shoeless
The past two years have finally brought the University of Miami baseball team back to their historically second home: Omaha. Unfortunately, the Canes had a short stay this past season, losing their first two games to Arizona and UC Santa Barbara, respectively. It was a showing that Miami fans would like to quickly forget, but before the past two seasons, it had been 2008 that the Hurricanes had last been to the College World Series. Regarding University of Miami baseball standards, that is unacceptable.
The Canes would like to build on back-to-back trips to the College World Series, but they are going to have to do it by filling some major holes on offense. Zack Collins, Willie Abreu, Jacob Heyward, and Brandon Lopez all have moved on to pro ball. It will be no small feat to replace those four players from an offensive standpoint, but add in the fact that Collins and Lopez were veterans up the middle, and Coach Morris has quite the dilemma.
The most likely candidate to replace Collins behind the plate is freshman Michael Amditis, a 37th round draft pick and the 200th ranked draft eligible player overall by Baseball America. Amditis fought injuries his final year in high school, but if healthy, he looks to step in from the outset for the departed All-American. Amditis will not completely match Collins offensive numbers, or defensively for that matter, but he should provide the Canes with a solid and dependable catcher who could turn into an All-American down the road.
As for replacing Lopez at shortstop, Miami will likely turn to senior Johnny Ruiz, who started at second base last year, hitting .342 while turning down the Houston Astros as a 28th round pick. The transition of Ruiz from second to shortstop likely opens up a spot for Randy Batista, another senior who was Miami’s designated hitter for most of the season last year. Sophomore Romy Gonzalez and senior Edgar Michelangeli will hold down third base. There is a good chance that whichever one is not playing at third will be manning the designated hitter spot.
Could we potentially see Michelangeli move to second in order to get Gonzalez in the field or at the plate? Michelangeli was really good defensively for Miami last season at the hot corner, as well as many late game heroics offensively, so it is unlikely that he moves to second, but with the potential bat of Gonzalez hanging in the balance, if Batista isn’t able to impress then a shuffle could certainly occur. Freshman Gregory Veliz, who comes in as a power arm, is another name to remember within the infield possibilities. Veliz could provide depth up the middle, or could even find himself in the mix at first base if the Canes begin to struggle. However, Christopher Barr returns to man first base. An everyday starter last season, Barr provides a great defensive glove at first base and is a solid contact hitter.
While Miami loses starting outfielders Heyward and Abreu, this year’s outfield should provide lots of speed. Carl Chester returns after hitting .336 with 16 stolen bases. Chester will provide a much-needed experienced bat, who also has potential to double that stolen base total. Speedster James Davison should enter the outfield and could potentially take the leadoff spot in the lineup, moving Chester into a more RBI role. Davison ended his JUCO career with a .419 average with 14 homeruns and 36 stolen bases. He was a 39th round draft pick out of high school. The final outfield spot should go to Hunter Tackett, who was a JUCO All-American last year. Tackett hit .434 with 10 homeruns and 21 stolen bases last year. A 36th round draft pick out of high school, Tackett, who started his career at Auburn, is the most likely candidate to fill the cleanup spot in the new Hurricanes lineup. JUCO transfer, Michael Burns, is another guy to keep a watch for, as the staff likes his speed. If Burns can win one of the starting outfield positions then Tackett will fill the designated hitter role.
Pitching is different story as the Hurricanes welcome back almost all the important arms from last season. Closer Bryan Garcia will be missed, but Coach Arteaga should have plenty of guys to choose from to fill the void. The most likely candidate to replace Garcia, at least to start the season, appears to be Frankie Bartow, who was used as Garcia’s setup man last season. Cooper Hammond will be a guy to watch, as he was the setup man before injuring himself during the season. Hammond’s progress will be something to pay attention to, as he will likely be a major key to eating innings against solid clubs late in the season and postseason. Having the experience of both Bartow and Hammond could pay major dividends for the Canes later in the season.
The weekend rotation should be solid for Miami. Michael Mediavilla, a junior lefty, who was named 3rd team All-ACC last year, returns as the Canes probable Friday night starter. Mediavilla went 11-2 last year in 103.1 innings while posting a 3.40 ERA. He can get wild at times, but his 85 strike outs last year prove that he can be effectively wild. Andrew Cabezas will make the move into the starting rotation, as he did late last season and into the postseason. If Cabezas can make the jump that the staff is hoping he can make from his freshman season to his sophomore season, then Miami will have a very dependable rotation. Drafted in the 34th round, at times Cabezas has electric stuff. His slider is nasty and he will need it in order to get through the brutal ACC schedule. The final rotation spot seems to be between Jesse Lepore, who was Miami’s midweek starter last year, and Jeb Bargfeldt, a Junior College transfer who began his career at Wichita State. Lepore went 9-0 as midweek starter for the Canes a year ago and posted a 2.20 ERA. I believe Lepore will get the chance to be Miami’s Sunday starter when all is said and done. Bargfeldt is an arm to pay attention to though as his 12-1 record last year in JUCO is impressive.
The bullpen potentially could be a major strength for the Hurricanes. As stated above, experienced guys such as Bartow and Hammond return, but the Canes also bring in some talented young arms that should impact immediately. Freshman Gregory Veliz, a big time power arm, could be used in many different ways out of the bullpen depending on how he makes the transition from high school to college ball. Veliz could even work himself into the closers role if Arteaga wants Bartow to eat more innings. Keven Pimentel, Evan McKendry, and the mentioned above, Studstill, should also all be major contributors in the bullpen. The wildcard in the bunch will be redshirt senior Enrique Sosa, who returns from injury. In 2015, Sosa served as Miami’s third starter on weekends. While I don’t think he will crack the weekend rotation again, his experience could certainly help.
Overall, Miami should be a completely different team this season compared to last. While Collins, Abreu, and Heyward provided lots of power in the lineup, this year’s squad should utilize speed in order to score runs. Chester and Davison will provide big time speed for the Canes, while Tackett, Ruiz, and Barr should give Miami good base runners to put extra pressure on opposing defenses. It will certainly be a different look to this year’s squad.
Miami should also be very good defensively. This was one of the strengths of last year’s team and should again prove to be true this season. Michelangeli, Ruiz, and Barr provide a very good and experienced infield defense for Miami and the return of Chester gives Miami a veteran in centerfield. The speed of Davison should also immediately be seen in the outfield. Defensively, much will depend on how Amditis adapts to the college game.
The schedule does not help the Canes in breaking in some newcomers. Miami plays in Gainesville against a top five Gators team early in the season, as well as road series against North Carolina State, North Carolina, and Virginia. Miami will get Georgia Tech and Florida State at home.
It is hard to imagine Miami equaling last season’s success during the regular season. I do like the potential of Miami’s speed and I hope to see them utilize it. Guys like Carl Chester need to become better base runners, not only relying on their speed to swipe bags. If this team can continue last year’s great defense, and become a team that puts pressure on opposing pitching staffs by running and using its speed, then I do think we could see this squad back in Omaha.
 

Comments (11)

nice article, thanks for posting. agree about the regular season expectations and i also think this team could be scarier in omaha if we get there. much more balanced team, won't have to rely on the bats against the great pitching (in omaha)
 
Thanks guys. Could see some early growing pains. I do really like Davison and Tackett. That early trip to Gainesville could be rough. If we can utilize our speed then I think we are built better for postseason but we will see.
 
I grew up in the area, so I played with or against a lot of these kids.

-Romy gonzalez struggled with the bat last season, but he has a canon; if he hits he'll get on the field this year.

- Miami loves to ride their horses and we saw at the end of last year Mikey Mediavilla had a big drop in velocity. Regardless he can still get outs, I hope his arm has strengthened and he re-gains some velo.

-Amditis is the real deal. Great pop time, can swing the bat, and he'll be prepared. He has faced great competition playing for the elite squad prime team over the past few summers, and he destroyed the summer circuit.

-Cabezas and Bartow will continue to grow into their roles, but this team will not be as good as last year's. I don't think we have enough pop in the middle of the line-up to make a deep run.
 
Nice job.

Base-running, pitching, defense are key. Offense should find its footing eventually.
 
Im all for a huge test for this team against Uif. It will be a definite measuring stick, and regardless of what happens the squad will "hopefully" build off the experience and grow.
 
Nice write-up Shoeless. If the JUCO starter is legit, and Cabezas does make the transition to being a got guy in the rotation we will have a good deep staff for tourney play. We will just need the defense and hitting to get us there. A lot of that will depend on how much pop we get out of Davison and Tackett's bats.
 
prediction:

Davison, CF
Burns, LF
Ruiz, SS
Chester, DH
Tackett, RF
Amditis, C
Michelangeli, 3B
Barr, 1B
Batista, 2B

I know that Chester is coming back from hernia surgery so I think he could DH quite a bit.
 
prediction:

Davison, CF
Burns, LF
Ruiz, SS
Chester, DH
Tackett, RF
Amditis, C
Michelangeli, 3B
Barr, 1B
Batista, 2B

I know that Chester is coming back from hernia surgery so I think he could DH quite a bit.

I think you may be right about Chester, especially since they seem to like Burns.
 

2021 Commits

S
6'5"
220
Fort Lauderdale, FL
DT
6'4"
255
Miami, FL
OG
6'2"
295
Miami, FL
DT
6'4"
290
Miami, FL
DE
6'5"
210
Miami, FL
WR
6'2"
180
Miami, FL
RB
6'0"
225
Hollywood, FL
TE
6'4"
210
Frisco, TX
STR
6'3"
190
Melbourne, FL
S
5'11"
200
Miami, FL

Latest Predictions

by Stylie
Medium
by whoopingcane
Certain
by whoopingcane
Certain
by whoopingcane
Certain
by PhillDaCane
Certain

2020 Schedule

09/10
UAB
Miami Gardens, FL
W 31 - 14
09/19
Louisville
Louisville, KY
W 47 - 34
09/26
Florida State
Miami Gardens, FL
W 52 - 10
10/10
Clemson
Clemson, SC
10/17
Pittsburgh
Miami Gardens, FL
10/24
Virginia
Miami Gardens, FL
11/06
NC State
Raleigh, NC
11/14
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA
11/21
Georgia Tech
Miami Gardens, FL
11/28
Wake Forest
Winston-Salem, NC
12/05
North Carolina
Miami Gardens, FL
Top