Takeaways from Canes Baseball's first road series win

Takeaways from Canes Baseball's first road series win


Miami hit the low point of their season with a loss to FIU, only to bounce back and take their first road series win up in Blacksburg. Javi Salas, who threw the 23rd perfect game in D1 history for the Canes, joined the CanesInSight Podcast with his takeaways on the week in Canes baseball:

On the FIU loss and series win against Virginia Tech: We've had our struggles in state all year long. That loss spoke to some of the talent issues that Miami's experiencing. The midweek starting pitcher role has been a toss-up. We haven't had one guy that's taken the bull by the horns. FIU did a nice job keeping Miami at bay and keeping the game at a distance. It was a tough loss and a low point. You never want to lose to a crosstown rival. But it was a nice bounce-back last weekend [against VT] and that’s the one positive you can draw.

On Daniel Cuvet’s monster weekend: I've been high on Cuvet since Day One. Last week, I pointed to his postgame presser against BYU where he said he acknowledged his struggles. He acknowledged that he had a period where he needed to adjust. It just speaks to the kid’s maturity at 18 years old.

He's the best player on our team. When he plays like Daniel Cuvet and he hits home runs all over the park, Miami's got the best player on the field and they’ve got a really good chance to win. The pitcher in me says, “Why are people still throwing to him? Why are they throwing him fastballs?”

I love the player that he's become and the maturity has shown throughout the entire season. On Friday night, facing Virginia Tech’s ace, he gets a fastball in a 3-0 count and deposits it over the hitter’s eye.

He's showing up to these big-time series in the ACC knowing he's not protected by Jason Torres and Blake Cyr anymore. He knows he's not gonna get very many pitches to hit and still does damage. I'm excited for Year Two and Year Three to see his real ceiling.

On Cuvet’s power: Last week, 450 dead center. This week, it’s the 440-foot range with exit velos over 110. These balls are not only hit far, they're hit super hard with a high trajectory. These are like “The Natural” kind of home runs.

Baseball has shifted where everyone is trying to pull the ball. They're trying to hit it out to left field, or right field If you're left-handed. Cuvet’s hitting the ball all over the field. We've seen homers to right. We've seen homers off the scoreboard at Mark Light. Homers off the hitters’ eyes.

It’s the progression of a freshman. He knows he's not getting pitches to hit. So what does he do? He gets a 3-0 count, zones in on fastball, gets a fastball he can hit, and doesn't miss it. As a pitcher, that's what I worry about. I worry about guys that are uber-aggressive and want to do damage. If I throw a 3-1 strike and it's a take, I'm right back in the count. I can really go with any pitch. At 3-0, a guy that's aggressive with crazy power like that scares me. There's a reason why they walked them three times the rest of the weekend. They weren't going to deal with him. Virginia Tech put up the white surrender flag and said, “No mas. Let somebody else beat us.”

On hitters like Ben Watson (Elizabethtown transfer) and Eddie Micheletti (George Washington transfer) putting up big numbers for Virginia Tech: Baseball is great everywhere. There's great D2 players and there's great players in D3. They're just looking to make the jump. This transfer portal/NIL era has opened everyone's horizons to realize, “We can get our team better with quality guys really quickly.” Florida State was at the bottom of the ACC in Link Jarrett’s first year. They're going to be a national seed in a couple weeks and host a regional in Tallahassee. This is something that coaches have not experienced before, but it's available to us. The course has been charted.

You don't have to look far. Florida State, Virginia Tech and Clemson are reaping the benefits of widening your search and expanding your horizons to players - not just at the high school level - but at the collegiate and junior college level. There's so much good baseball being played out there.

Miami is still Miami. The name carries a lot of weight in baseball at the collegiate level. Come on, we're in South Florida. The weather's great all year. I can guarantee you the guy from Elizabethtown College, wherever that is, probably didn't have a great winter. So there's going to be the ability to shore up this lineup in a quick manner.

I played summer ball. That's one of the great barometers of talent because you get guys from all over the country, small schools and big schools. I played in the Virginia Valley League, which was a very competitive league. We had guys from everywhere, D2s, D3s, that absolutely raked the middle of our lineup. We had guys from P5s and then we had the third hitter from a random school in North Carolina that was one of our best players. My eyes were opened to how good the level of baseball is everywhere.

Miami's got to be aggressive. Go out and find those diamonds in the rough, and also go after guys at bigger programs that want to play at Miami. I think those guys are going to be more available than we think.

On Myles Caba: He's one of those guys I talked about a couple weeks ago. These last 10 games of the season are a good evaluation point. Professional teams look at trends a lot. They want to see your last 10 or 15 games. This is a good evaluation point for our roster.

I really liked what I saw out of Myles Caba. It was the best performance of his career at Miami. He’s a guy who dealt with a lot of injuries and bounced back. He’s seen his ups and downs, but he pitched in a really high leverage situation on Friday. I like the fact that they let him go. They let him finish the game and rode the hot hand. I'm a big believer that once a pitcher's in a groove, you ride the horse until he can't go anymore.

On Nick Robert: We saw him go 50+ pitches on Saturday. I don't have the data in front of me, but I can't imagine Nick has had that many pitches in an outing this year. But again, let your guys go. Let them experience the ups and downs of going multiple innings and closing out a tight game like that in the conference.

To me, Robert’s stuff profiles as a starter. He's got a heavy sinking fastball. Not a whole lot of strikeouts or swing-and-miss just yet. He was thrust into a really tough situation early on in the season, wasn't the Opening Day closer, found his way into the closing role because of some moving parts and he pitched well. At that point, you're kind of just surviving. You're not necessarily trying to develop pitches when you're closer. You're just trying to get the last three outs of the game, go into the dugout, put on some music and celebrate a win.

Nick Robert is going to benefit from an offseason knowing, “I'm going to have this defined role,” whether that's a starter or reliever. My personal opinion, I think he's a starter. He's a big guy. He has the ability to throw a good breaking ball. I've seen him working on the changeup. He has an advanced feel for a changeup, which is nice to see as a freshman. They should identify early on whether he’s going to be a starter or a reliever so he can go into his offseason confident and understanding his plan. “I need to go and do XYZ. So when I show up in August, my body feels like this. My arm is at this position.” There’s such a different offseason between a starter and a reliever. I'm sure those conversations are going to start happening here in the next couple of weeks as the season winds down.

On Herick Hernandez, who is 5th in the ACC in strikeouts but has a 6.56 ERA: With another Miami staff, Herick might not be thrust into that Sunday role. We spoke early on in the season about Herick playing outfield at the high school level. A year at Miami-Dade College was basically his first year pitching. It’s a tough jump to become a starting pitcher.

We've seen Herick flash incredible stuff. He has strikeout numbers and stuff that plays at the collegiate level. We've just seen him be susceptible to the long ball. A lot of doubles and triples. When he gets in hitter’s counts, that's when he really gets hurt.

If he's coming back next year, I don't know if that's as a starter as a reliever. Obviously, these are all conversations that are going to start happening sooner rather than later. That's where the player evaluation and player development come in. You need to develop a plan in the offseason. Herick’s going to be looking at those numbers. He's going to know exactly where he got hit, what happened, what was his downfall. Miami has the data. They have the facilities now. They have a pitching lab where he can spend the summer developing pitches, working on tunneling, working on pitch shape and pitch form. Miami's at the cutting edge of all this stuff. There's no excuse anymore. If you have a good plan going into an offseason, you could really change the outlook of your career really quickly.

On Dorian Gonzalez: Team captain, just a solidifying anchor for this team. Dorian is not going to wow you with his athletic ability, but he hits the ball hard. He hits the ball all over the field. We saw the home runs the opposite way.

He means a lot to the program. Obviously, he's a Belen guy, so he's near and dear to D$’s heart. Tremendous year for Dorian. I hope he gets that 10 home run mark. That'd be cool to see.

Dorian's been key to some big-time wins. We've seen Dorian hit the walk-off homer and then have a suicide squeeze bunt for a win. So he's a versatile guy who can do a lot for you.

On what he wants to see this week: A little bit more of what I saw on Friday and Saturday, which is a team that came out with some fire. We saw JD Arteaga get run out of the building on Friday. That zone was really bad for both teams on Friday night. I like to see that out of JD. I thought that was awesome. I think it gave the team a lot of confidence. He came out and told the umpire that he didn't appreciate his calls among some other things. The team responded.

I don't love going to Blacksburg, Virginia. I don't think anyone really does. They have the turkey gobbles constantly. They used to have a cow pasture out in right field. When the wind would blow in, you can imagine what that smelled like. I like beating these guys.

It was obviously a very emotional series. Virginia Tech came down to Miami last year and beat us. So it’s nice to get a win. The team seemed fired up and rejuvenated. They were fighting. I'd like to see the team come out again. Just play like there's no tomorrow. There really is no tomorrow. There's nothing to lose. Play free, play fast, let Daniel Cuvet swing at 3-0 pitches and try to do some damage. Go into the ACC tournament as the wild card. No one wants to fight the crazy guy. If these guys are crazy enough to think they have a chance to win with the best player in Daniel Cuvet, who knows?

Comments (3)

Good discussion on the state of the program and players in the program moving forward.

I think .500 is the goal at this point. No team or coach wants to be in the record books for the 1st losing season since the 1950's.
Assuming we aren't swept this weekend, they'll make the ACCT and JD and his staff get another year, I presume.

The $64k question is - are they capable and will they work hard enough to replicate what FSU, Clemson, etc did in the portal? Tough task ahead, as I suspect it's harder to acquire solid SP in the portal vs position players.