Miami Baseball Season Preview

Lance Roffers

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Coaching Staff
It is a new dawn for Miami Hurricanes baseball, as legendary coach Jim Morris rides off into retirement on the heels of back-to-back disappointing seasons. The program decided to stay in-house for their Head Coach as they promoted Hitting Coach/Recruiting Coordinator Gino DiMare to Head Coach. The former Miami Hurricane outfielder has paid his dues as an assistant coach and retained almost the entire staff. J.D. Arteaga returns as pitching coach and was elevated to “Associate Head Coach” as well. Norberto Lopez remains the catching coach, but will take over as the Recruiting Coordinator. DiMare felt a ton of pressure being tasked with getting players to campus as the RC and is excited to pass those duties along to Lopez.

“Head coach is the most important job, I get it,” DiMare said. “But being in charge of getting players… there was tremendous pressure. We worked our butts off to sign players. Yet we probably lose more players to the draft than any school in the country.”

It is interesting that DiMare felt more pressure as the RC than he does as the HC as he is now taking over a storied program who has missed the NCAA tournament in back-to-back years for the first time in most fans’ lifetimes.

There is one new addition to the staff and I believe it is a big one. None of DiMare, Lopez, or Arteaga have any head coaching experience at the DI college level, so I feel it is important that they added a member of the staff who has HC experience in Bo Durkac. Durkac was the HC at Illinois State for the previous four seasons. Illinois State is in the same conference with my alma mater and I have seen his teams up close. They were a hitting focused team that played hard, but with limited success due to por pitching. Durkac recruited hitters very well in his time at ISU, including Paul DeJong, a major league player for the St. Louis Cardinals. His experience will be a valuable addition as DiMare works to navigate his first season.

Players
Before I profile the players and position groups, a quick primer on some of the terms. Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) is a metric that weights all of the offensive events and works to place a value on them as to how much the hitter contributed to scoring runs. Since each event is given a linear weight based on the run environment of college baseball, it is much more likely to reflect how impactful a hitter was than traditional statistics such as batting average, RBI, etc. Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is a metric that attempts to account for the actions that a pitcher can control to evaluate his performance (Walks, Strikeouts, HR’s). Since once the pitch is thrown a pitcher is at the mercy of how his fielders handle the play, plus simple luck on ball placement, this metric is a better indicator of performance than numbers such as ERA.

Now that the groundwork on numbers has been laid, I will get into the position groups. The average is the average performance for the position group among regular starters in the ACC. The rank is where the player ranked among ACC players at that position.

Catcher- ACC Average: wOBA- .346, 12.3% BB rate, 19.0% K rate, .275/.380/.415 BA/OBP/Slugging

The deepest position heading into the 2019 season for Miami is catcher. Miami brings back a couple of strong catchers and adds one of the top catchers in the nation to the mix as well.

Isaac Quinones- (.336 wOBA, 9.0% BB rate, 26.1% K rate, .292/.373/.383)

Undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the 2019 season was the emergence of Quinones. Expected to play little, he ended up taking over the starting C role and flourishing. Quinones finished 7th in the ACC for wOBA at the position. Quinones had some good fortune with a .407 Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) and when coupled with a high K rate, he will need to make some adjustments to repeat his level of success.

Michael Amditis- (.248 wOBA, 5.6% BB rate, 20.0% K rate, .225/.273/.288)

Considered the best defensive player on the roster, Amditis has had trouble staying healthy. Amditis worked very hard after being out of shape last season and has cut his weight from 220 pounds down to 185 this season (though listed on the roster as 190). The coaching staff is counting on him to fulfill his potential in his draft year and take over the starting job after finishing just 14th in the ACC in wOBA among catchers last year. “What a jump he made in maturity,” Lopez said. “He’s a totally different kid, and I’m seeing now why he is so special.” The coaching staff believes he dramatically improved the quality of his at-bats this fall.

Adrian Del Castillo- (Newcomer, D1 Baseball #8 incoming freshman, Perfect Game #18 incoming freshman in ACC)

Coach DiMare has said the newcomer will be in the lineup, either at C, 1B, or DH. Del Castillo brings in a much-needed left-handed bat, but also has a unique ability to make contact, as he struck out only once all fall camp. Showing off his strong arm he also caught the first nine baserunners attempting to steal off of him. The precocious talent brings impact tools to this roster.

1B- ACC Average: .361 wOBA, 14.1% BB rate, 20.3% K rate, .275/.390/.449 BA/OBP/Slugging

Alex Toral- (.299 wOBA, 16.9% BB rate, 33.9% K rate, .161/.322/.237)

Expected by many to win the ACC Freshman of the Year award, Toral struggled throughout the year to make consistent contact en route to a disappointing season. DiMare said “Toral is the guy we’re counting on. We haven’t given up on him. He had a good summer in Wisconsin, and was OK in the fall. He just isn’t consistent enough.” Toral is going to face a lot of competition for at-bats this year and enters a make-or-break season.

JP Gates- (Newcomer, #10 freshman from DI Baseball, #6 incoming freshman for Perfect Game)

Gates was expected by many to be selected in the MLB draft, a strong commitment to Miami and a desire to be a two-way college player led him to campus. Miami is excited at his decision as Gates brings a strong LH bat in addition to an exceptional arm on the mound. He was a hitting standout in Miami’s fall scrimmage with FAU and is expected to get at-bats as a DH and pinch hitter.

2B- ACC Average: .341 wOBA, 11.8% BB rate, 15.3% K rate, .283/.387/.388 BA/OBP/Slugging

Willy Escala- (.321 wOBA, 10.0% BB rate, 30.3% K rate, .282/.372/.348)

One of several freshmen who had to play starting roles for Miami in 2018, Escala was locked in as the everyday 2B’man last year, but was getting reps at 3B in fall practice. The fastest player on the team, the coaching staff is hoping to see a big jump in his baserunning skills this season. Buoyed by a .426 BABIP, Escala needs to make more consistent contact this season in order to overcome any decrease in luck with balls falling in for hits.

Anthony Vilar- (Newcomer, #48 incoming freshman from DI Baseball)

With Escala getting so many reps at 3B in fall ball, the main benefactor was Vilar, who took the opportunity to get reps at 2B and impress the coaching staff. He’s not especially toolsy, but he hit 22 homers the past two years at Westminster Christian and the coaching staff likes him. Tripled in the FAU exhibition game. The left-handed swinger will have a shot to win the job, or at least get at-bats vs. right-handed pitching. The coaching staff believes his instincts allow all of his tools to play up.

SS- ACC Average: .340 wOBA, 11.0% BB rate, 14.3% K rate, .279/.372/.409 BA/OBP/Slugging

Freddy Zamora- (.354 wOBA, 9.5% BB rate, 7.4% K rate, .308/.391/.418)

The best position player for Miami as just a true freshman, Zamora returns as the one player cemented into his spot. DiMare called Zamora the team’s most improved player and said he “caught everything” this fall. Zamora did everything well offensively, but on the defensive side the 17 errors was called “terrible” by DiMare and he looks for Zamora to cut that total in half. He was 20-24 stealing bases and is the team’s best baserunner as well.

3B- ACC Average: .340 wOBA, 10.7% BB rate, 22.2% K rate, .271/.367/.418 BA/OBP/Slugging

Ray Gil- (.301 wOBA, 9.7% BB rate, 32.6% K rate, .234/.319/.371)

Gil split time between 3B & 1B last year and there is a chance he splits time again this year if Miami wants to move players around to get regular at-bats for multiple hitters. Gil has a strong arm and can make all the plays at 3B, but a hand injury during the summer caused him to miss the entire fall. As with most Miami hitters, he needs to make more consistent contact to stay in the lineup and get on-base more often.

LF- ACC Average: .348 wOBA, 12.4% BB rate, 19.7% K rate, .273/.377/.427 BA/OBP/Slugging

Dylan Cloonan- (.367 wOBA, 15.8% BB rate, 26.7% K rate, .289/.415/.402)

Cloonan is expected to start in one of the corners- either LF or RF- and looks to build on a strong freshman season. One of the few high-OBP players in the lineup, as well as the most accomplished returning left-handed hitter, the coaching staff is hoping to see more development out of Cloonan this season.

Gabe Rivera- (.310 wOBA, 7.4% BB rate, 27.9% K rate, .224/.324/.397)

Rivera got his hitting career started with a bang as he hit a HR for his first against Georgia Tech. It was an up-and-down season from there for the talented Rivera. Coach DiMare believes if you lined up all the players on the roster, Rivera might be the best from a tools standpoint. “He can run, he can really throw, and the ball explodes off his bat. He has the most power of anyone on the team. He hasn’t swung the bat consistently like we want.”

CF- ACC Average: .340 wOBA, 11.5% BB rate, 17.3% K rate, .279/.378/.401 BA/OBP/Slugging

Tony Jenkins- (.327 wOBA, 17.2% BB rate, 27.9% K rate, .227/.380/.340)

Blessed with an exciting blend of power and speed, the coaching staff is looking to see Jenkins take a step forward in his sophomore season. He has the ability to take a walk and impressed the coaching staff with his plate discipline in the fall. Jenkins needs to drive the ball better this season and improve his base stealing percentage as he was thrown out on five of his nine steal attempts.

Chet Moore- (Newcomer, 157th ranked ACC freshman by Perfect Game)

Moore is a recruited walk-on who was the biggest surprise of the fall as he led the team with a .400 batting average. Moore is small at a listed 5-8, 180 pounds, but is a baseball grinder who has excellent ability to make contact. Moore had a base hit in the FAU exhibition game as well, and could take the job if Jenkins falters.

Jordan Lala- (Newcomer, #74 incoming freshman by Perfect Game)

Lala had shoulder surgery this offseason and will be out of action until most likely March. He is a player the coaches like and believe has the skills to be a true leadoff hitter.

RF- ACC Average: .351 wOBA, 12.3% BB rate, 22.7% K rate, .265/.373/.441 BA/OBP/Slugging

Chad Crosbie- (Newcomer, Transfer from Juco by way of San Diego)

Described as a grinder who “deserves to play” by Coach DiMare, Crosbie is another player with intriguing plate discipline as a left-handed hitter. Might be part of a platoon at one of the corner OF positions. Played well vs. FAU in the exhibition.

Bench

Luis Tuero- (Newcomer, #89 freshman in ACC)

Needs to gain a lot of strength, but is athletic and fast. Did not stand out in the fall and will be used a utility player and pinch runner. 6.70 60-yard dash. Left-handed hitter is listed as OF/INF on the roster.

Starting Pitcher- ACC Average: 4.13 FIP, 21.0% K rate, 16.5% BB rate, .251 BABIP

Evan McKendry- (2.42 FIP, 31.4% K rate, 9.1% BB rate, .356 BABIP)

McKendry will step into the Friday night role left behind by senior Jeb Bargfeldt. McKendry was a force for Miami last season and was a rather unlucky pitcher, as evidenced by his .356 BABIP being over a hundred points higher than the league average. McKendry tended to let innings spiral out of control at times last year and it’ll be interesting to see if he can put up the ace like run prevention that his metrics portray. McKendry had the 3rd best FIP among starters in the ACC last season, behind only Connor Thomas of Georgia Tech and Evan Sperling of Virginia (who was hurt and missed most of the season). McKendry had hip surgery and took the fall off, but he should be ready to go for the season.

Chris McMahon- (4.12 FIP, 16.4% K rate, 8.2% BB rate, .284 BABIP)

McMahon was a ballyhooed freshman who had his season derailed a bit by a knee injury. He is now recovered fully and has his strength back and his velocity up. The coaches also believe his breaking ball improved over the fall and he is ready to take the next step as the Saturday starter. If the changeup takes the step the coaches expect, McMahon could have a dominant season as he throws strikes, repeats his delivery, and has 92-95 mph stuff.

Greg Veliz- (4.05 FIP, 17.9% K rate, 15.4% BB rate, .188 BABIP)

If McKendry was unlucky last season, then Veliz was quite lucky with a .188 BABIP. Part of the reason Veliz will run such low BABIP’s is because of the quality of his stuff making contact against him rather weak. He can throw up to 97 mph with his fastball and has a wipeout slider. The two areas that have held him back are injuries and lack of control. The coaching staff believes he is fully healthy and he made strides with throwing strikes in the fall. Veliz could be the difference between a good season and a great one.

Slade Cecconi- (Newcomer, #2 incoming freshman by DI Baseball, #5 by Perfect Game)

Perhaps the most anticipated recruit in this year’s recruiting class is Slade Cecconi. The top-100 national draft prospect was not expected to make it to campus, but Miami can look to him to be a force in their rotation for at least the next two seasons. Armed with a fastball that regularly sits 92-94 and has touched 97 mph, he commands three pitches exceptionally well. A power pitcher known for throwing strikes, he will start the year as the mid-week starter but has the talent to push for more.

Bullpen-

If there is an area on the team that is in flux, it would certainly be the bullpen. Miami lost their closer (Frankie Hammond) and top reliever (Cooper Hammond) from last year’s team and look to have an inexperienced bullpen.

Closer-

JP Gates- (Newcomer, #10 incoming freshman by DI Baseball, #6 by Perfect Game)

Gates may not be the most talented incoming player from a draft perspective, but he might be the most impactful this season. Not only is Gates a powerful left-handed hitter, but he also has a powerful left arm with a fastball at 88-92 mph and a swing-and-miss slider. Pitching Coach JD Arteaga said he had the best fall of any newcomer on the staff. “He throws strikes and has a very good breaking ball.” A closer has to avoid walks, HR’s, and have the right temperament for closing games. The coaching staff believes that Gates possesses all of these qualities.

Setup-

Daniel Federman- (3.53 FIP, 22.1% K rate, 9.0% BB rate, .244 BABIP)

Federman was a bit of a swing man last year; making mid-week starts and settling into a relief role for much of the season. Federman is a bulldog on the mound and comes right at hitters with a good fastball that sits in the 88-93 mph range as he adds/subtracts velocity as needed. The cutter is the pitch he uses to get out opposite-handed hitters. His mindset is perfectly suited for end-game situations.

Tyler Keysor- (Newcomer, Juco transfer from Eastern Florida State College)

Intimidating presence on the mound at 6-5, 225 pounds, Keysor had a very good fall. His fastball is 90-94 mph but what sets him apart is his curveball. The pitch has excellent tilt from an 11-to-5 angle and he also can spot a good changeup. The pitch-mix would be in a weekend rotation for a lot of clubs, but look for him to fill a relief role barring injury. Rated as the #45 draft prospect in the ACC by DI Baseball, he is a quality addition to the staff.

Specialist-

Mark Mixon- (Newcomer, Juco transfer from South Georgia State College)

Over the past several years Miami has become known for having submarine right-handed relievers and Mixon looks to join the lineage. What sets him apart from many of his predecessors is his velocity, as he can get his fastball into the 90-93 mph range from the submarine angle. Add to it an excellent slider with late breaking action and he will be very tough on right-handed hitters this season. He had 92 strikeouts in 75 innings at his Junior College last year and will be an excellent option for situations where a strikeout is needed.

Jeremy Cook- (6.97 FIP, 18.9% K rate, 21.1% BB rate, .328 BABIP)

Cook’s numbers were not pretty last season as he was unable to control the strike zone and gets hitters to chase pitches out of the zone. Cook can hit the low-90’s from the left-side and if he can take a step forward with his command, he will be a weapon against left-handed hitters this season.

Other Options-

Daniel Rivero- (Minimal appearances)

At the end of fall camp Coach Arteaga said that Rivero was Miami’s most improved pitcher. Over the summer he went to the Alaskan Summer League performed well, gained confidence, and carried it through fall camp. His velocity ticked up this year- as did his ability to command his stuff. After only eight appearances in two years, anything Rivero gives is a bonus, but he has the coach’s attention.

Albert Maury- (Missed season due to elbow surgery)

Should return by March 1st and has the ability to contribute as a long reliever if healthy.

Questions Remaining-

  • What will change under new coach DiMare? Expect a lot of the strategy to stay the same under Coach DiMare, who has been with the program many years as a player and assistant. One area that will look much different is in the use of defensive shifts this year. Miami used more shifts the FAU exhibition than perhaps all games combined under Coach Morris. Embracing a more analytical style seems to be one difference under DiMare.
  • Balancing the lineup? Miami had just 272 at-bats from left-handed hitters last season- far and away the lowest number in the ACC. The lineup had few answers for tough right-handed pitching last season and DiMare has sought to change that, bringing in six left-handed hitters in this recruiting class to help balance the lineup (Del Castillo, Vilar, Tuero, Crosbie, Lala, Gates). The additional balance gives DiMare far more options depending on the matchups each game.
  • Can the sophomores bounce back? Miami went into last season with a heralded recruiting class expected to make a big impact on the lineup. Instead, the team limped to a .317 wOBA, third-worst in the ACC. Miami will be counting on many of their freshmen-turned-sophomores to have better years at the plate. How many can do so will go a long way towards answering the question of just how good this team can be.
There is optimism inside the program that this team is capable of contending for Omaha again, but Miami will have fewer chances to secure an at-large bid this year as they have toned down the non-conference schedule in an effort to build more confidence. This team has the pitching rotation to compete with any team in the country and if the bats take a couple of steps forward: look out.
 

DavidMiami

#LetMiamiBeMiami
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Messages
367
Great job Lance Roffers, was thinking about this the other day. Jim Morris did great things for the Hurricanes but only real South Florida sports fans knew who he was. Hopefully the staff keeps them competitive
 

jsm1399

Redshirt Freshman
Joined
Feb 17, 2017
Messages
421
Thank God I don’t have to watch Mediavilla pitch another inning in a Canes’ uniform
 

BP Joe

Recruit
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Jan 25, 2013
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Coaching Staff
It is a new dawn for Miami Hurricanes baseball, as legendary coach Jim Morris rides off into retirement on the heels of back-to-back disappointing seasons. The program decided to stay in-house for their Head Coach as they promoted Hitting Coach/Recruiting Coordinator Gino DiMare to Head Coach. The former Miami Hurricane outfielder has paid his dues as an assistant coach and retained almost the entire staff. J.D. Arteaga returns as pitching coach and was elevated to “Associate Head Coach” as well. Norberto Lopez remains the catching coach, but will take over as the Recruiting Coordinator. DiMare felt a ton of pressure being tasked with getting players to campus as the RC and is excited to pass those duties along to Lopez.

“Head coach is the most important job, I get it,” DiMare said. “But being in charge of getting players… there was tremendous pressure. We worked our butts off to sign players. Yet we probably lose more players to the draft than any school in the country.”

It is interesting that DiMare felt more pressure as the RC than he does as the HC as he is now taking over a storied program who has missed the NCAA tournament in back-to-back years for the first time in most fans’ lifetimes.

There is one new addition to the staff and I believe it is a big one. None of DiMare, Lopez, or Arteaga have any head coaching experience at the DI college level, so I feel it is important that they added a member of the staff who has HC experience in Bo Durkac. Durkac was the HC at Illinois State for the previous four seasons. Illinois State is in the same conference with my alma mater and I have seen his teams up close. They were a hitting focused team that played hard, but with limited success due to por pitching. Durkac recruited hitters very well in his time at ISU, including Paul DeJong, a major league player for the St. Louis Cardinals. His experience will be a valuable addition as DiMare works to navigate his first season.

Players
Before I profile the players and position groups, a quick primer on some of the terms. Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) is a metric that weights all of the offensive events and works to place a value on them as to how much the hitter contributed to scoring runs. Since each event is given a linear weight based on the run environment of college baseball, it is much more likely to reflect how impactful a hitter was than traditional statistics such as batting average, RBI, etc. Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is a metric that attempts to account for the actions that a pitcher can control to evaluate his performance (Walks, Strikeouts, HR’s). Since once the pitch is thrown a pitcher is at the mercy of how his fielders handle the play, plus simple luck on ball placement, this metric is a better indicator of performance than numbers such as ERA.

Now that the groundwork on numbers has been laid, I will get into the position groups. The average is the average performance for the position group among regular starters in the ACC. The rank is where the player ranked among ACC players at that position.

Catcher- ACC Average: wOBA- .346, 12.3% BB rate, 19.0% K rate, .275/.380/.415 BA/OBP/Slugging

The deepest position heading into the 2019 season for Miami is catcher. Miami brings back a couple of strong catchers and adds one of the top catchers in the nation to the mix as well.

Isaac Quinones- (.336 wOBA, 9.0% BB rate, 26.1% K rate, .292/.373/.383)

Undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the 2019 season was the emergence of Quinones. Expected to play little, he ended up taking over the starting C role and flourishing. Quinones finished 7th in the ACC for wOBA at the position. Quinones had some good fortune with a .407 Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) and when coupled with a high K rate, he will need to make some adjustments to repeat his level of success.

Michael Amditis- (.248 wOBA, 5.6% BB rate, 20.0% K rate, .225/.273/.288)

Considered the best defensive player on the roster, Amditis has had trouble staying healthy. Amditis worked very hard after being out of shape last season and has cut his weight from 220 pounds down to 185 this season (though listed on the roster as 190). The coaching staff is counting on him to fulfill his potential in his draft year and take over the starting job after finishing just 14th in the ACC in wOBA among catchers last year. “What a jump he made in maturity,” Lopez said. “He’s a totally different kid, and I’m seeing now why he is so special.” The coaching staff believes he dramatically improved the quality of his at-bats this fall.

Adrian Del Castillo- (Newcomer, D1 Baseball #8 incoming freshman, Perfect Game #18 incoming freshman in ACC)

Coach DiMare has said the newcomer will be in the lineup, either at C, 1B, or DH. Del Castillo brings in a much-needed left-handed bat, but also has a unique ability to make contact, as he struck out only once all fall camp. Showing off his strong arm he also caught the first nine baserunners attempting to steal off of him. The precocious talent brings impact tools to this roster.

1B- ACC Average: .361 wOBA, 14.1% BB rate, 20.3% K rate, .275/.390/.449 BA/OBP/Slugging

Alex Toral- (.299 wOBA, 16.9% BB rate, 33.9% K rate, .161/.322/.237)

Expected by many to win the ACC Freshman of the Year award, Toral struggled throughout the year to make consistent contact en route to a disappointing season. DiMare said “Toral is the guy we’re counting on. We haven’t given up on him. He had a good summer in Wisconsin, and was OK in the fall. He just isn’t consistent enough.” Toral is going to face a lot of competition for at-bats this year and enters a make-or-break season.

JP Gates- (Newcomer, #10 freshman from DI Baseball, #6 incoming freshman for Perfect Game)

Gates was expected by many to be selected in the MLB draft, a strong commitment to Miami and a desire to be a two-way college player led him to campus. Miami is excited at his decision as Gates brings a strong LH bat in addition to an exceptional arm on the mound. He was a hitting standout in Miami’s fall scrimmage with FAU and is expected to get at-bats as a DH and pinch hitter.

2B- ACC Average: .341 wOBA, 11.8% BB rate, 15.3% K rate, .283/.387/.388 BA/OBP/Slugging

Willy Escala- (.321 wOBA, 10.0% BB rate, 30.3% K rate, .282/.372/.348)

One of several freshmen who had to play starting roles for Miami in 2018, Escala was locked in as the everyday 2B’man last year, but was getting reps at 3B in fall practice. The fastest player on the team, the coaching staff is hoping to see a big jump in his baserunning skills this season. Buoyed by a .426 BABIP, Escala needs to make more consistent contact this season in order to overcome any decrease in luck with balls falling in for hits.

Anthony Vilar- (Newcomer, #48 incoming freshman from DI Baseball)

With Escala getting so many reps at 3B in fall ball, the main benefactor was Vilar, who took the opportunity to get reps at 2B and impress the coaching staff. He’s not especially toolsy, but he hit 22 homers the past two years at Westminster Christian and the coaching staff likes him. Tripled in the FAU exhibition game. The left-handed swinger will have a shot to win the job, or at least get at-bats vs. right-handed pitching. The coaching staff believes his instincts allow all of his tools to play up.

SS- ACC Average: .340 wOBA, 11.0% BB rate, 14.3% K rate, .279/.372/.409 BA/OBP/Slugging

Freddy Zamora- (.354 wOBA, 9.5% BB rate, 7.4% K rate, .308/.391/.418)

The best position player for Miami as just a true freshman, Zamora returns as the one player cemented into his spot. DiMare called Zamora the team’s most improved player and said he “caught everything” this fall. Zamora did everything well offensively, but on the defensive side the 17 errors was called “terrible” by DiMare and he looks for Zamora to cut that total in half. He was 20-24 stealing bases and is the team’s best baserunner as well.

3B- ACC Average: .340 wOBA, 10.7% BB rate, 22.2% K rate, .271/.367/.418 BA/OBP/Slugging

Ray Gil- (.301 wOBA, 9.7% BB rate, 32.6% K rate, .234/.319/.371)

Gil split time between 3B & 1B last year and there is a chance he splits time again this year if Miami wants to move players around to get regular at-bats for multiple hitters. Gil has a strong arm and can make all the plays at 3B, but a hand injury during the summer caused him to miss the entire fall. As with most Miami hitters, he needs to make more consistent contact to stay in the lineup and get on-base more often.

LF- ACC Average: .348 wOBA, 12.4% BB rate, 19.7% K rate, .273/.377/.427 BA/OBP/Slugging

Dylan Cloonan- (.367 wOBA, 15.8% BB rate, 26.7% K rate, .289/.415/.402)

Cloonan is expected to start in one of the corners- either LF or RF- and looks to build on a strong freshman season. One of the few high-OBP players in the lineup, as well as the most accomplished returning left-handed hitter, the coaching staff is hoping to see more development out of Cloonan this season.

Gabe Rivera- (.310 wOBA, 7.4% BB rate, 27.9% K rate, .224/.324/.397)

Rivera got his hitting career started with a bang as he hit a HR for his first against Georgia Tech. It was an up-and-down season from there for the talented Rivera. Coach DiMare believes if you lined up all the players on the roster, Rivera might be the best from a tools standpoint. “He can run, he can really throw, and the ball explodes off his bat. He has the most power of anyone on the team. He hasn’t swung the bat consistently like we want.”

CF- ACC Average: .340 wOBA, 11.5% BB rate, 17.3% K rate, .279/.378/.401 BA/OBP/Slugging

Tony Jenkins- (.327 wOBA, 17.2% BB rate, 27.9% K rate, .227/.380/.340)

Blessed with an exciting blend of power and speed, the coaching staff is looking to see Jenkins take a step forward in his sophomore season. He has the ability to take a walk and impressed the coaching staff with his plate discipline in the fall. Jenkins needs to drive the ball better this season and improve his base stealing percentage as he was thrown out on five of his nine steal attempts.

Chet Moore- (Newcomer, 157th ranked ACC freshman by Perfect Game)

Moore is a recruited walk-on who was the biggest surprise of the fall as he led the team with a .400 batting average. Moore is small at a listed 5-8, 180 pounds, but is a baseball grinder who has excellent ability to make contact. Moore had a base hit in the FAU exhibition game as well, and could take the job if Jenkins falters.

Jordan Lala- (Newcomer, #74 incoming freshman by Perfect Game)

Lala had shoulder surgery this offseason and will be out of action until most likely March. He is a player the coaches like and believe has the skills to be a true leadoff hitter.

RF- ACC Average: .351 wOBA, 12.3% BB rate, 22.7% K rate, .265/.373/.441 BA/OBP/Slugging

Chad Crosbie- (Newcomer, Transfer from Juco by way of San Diego)

Described as a grinder who “deserves to play” by Coach DiMare, Crosbie is another player with intriguing plate discipline as a left-handed hitter. Might be part of a platoon at one of the corner OF positions. Played well vs. FAU in the exhibition.

Bench

Luis Tuero- (Newcomer, #89 freshman in ACC)

Needs to gain a lot of strength, but is athletic and fast. Did not stand out in the fall and will be used a utility player and pinch runner. 6.70 60-yard dash. Left-handed hitter is listed as OF/INF on the roster.

Starting Pitcher- ACC Average: 4.13 FIP, 21.0% K rate, 16.5% BB rate, .251 BABIP

Evan McKendry- (2.42 FIP, 31.4% K rate, 9.1% BB rate, .356 BABIP)

McKendry will step into the Friday night role left behind by senior Jeb Bargfeldt. McKendry was a force for Miami last season and was a rather unlucky pitcher, as evidenced by his .356 BABIP being over a hundred points higher than the league average. McKendry tended to let innings spiral out of control at times last year and it’ll be interesting to see if he can put up the ace like run prevention that his metrics portray. McKendry had the 3rd best FIP among starters in the ACC last season, behind only Connor Thomas of Georgia Tech and Evan Sperling of Virginia (who was hurt and missed most of the season). McKendry had hip surgery and took the fall off, but he should be ready to go for the season.

Chris McMahon- (4.12 FIP, 16.4% K rate, 8.2% BB rate, .284 BABIP)

McMahon was a ballyhooed freshman who had his season derailed a bit by a knee injury. He is now recovered fully and has his strength back and his velocity up. The coaches also believe his breaking ball improved over the fall and he is ready to take the next step as the Saturday starter. If the changeup takes the step the coaches expect, McMahon could have a dominant season as he throws strikes, repeats his delivery, and has 92-95 mph stuff.

Greg Veliz- (4.05 FIP, 17.9% K rate, 15.4% BB rate, .188 BABIP)

If McKendry was unlucky last season, then Veliz was quite lucky with a .188 BABIP. Part of the reason Veliz will run such low BABIP’s is because of the quality of his stuff making contact against him rather weak. He can throw up to 97 mph with his fastball and has a wipeout slider. The two areas that have held him back are injuries and lack of control. The coaching staff believes he is fully healthy and he made strides with throwing strikes in the fall. Veliz could be the difference between a good season and a great one.

Slade Cecconi- (Newcomer, #2 incoming freshman by DI Baseball, #5 by Perfect Game)

Perhaps the most anticipated recruit in this year’s recruiting class is Slade Cecconi. The top-100 national draft prospect was not expected to make it to campus, but Miami can look to him to be a force in their rotation for at least the next two seasons. Armed with a fastball that regularly sits 92-94 and has touched 97 mph, he commands three pitches exceptionally well. A power pitcher known for throwing strikes, he will start the year as the mid-week starter but has the talent to push for more.

Bullpen-

If there is an area on the team that is in flux, it would certainly be the bullpen. Miami lost their closer (Frankie Hammond) and top reliever (Cooper Hammond) from last year’s team and look to have an inexperienced bullpen.

Closer-

JP Gates- (Newcomer, #10 incoming freshman by DI Baseball, #6 by Perfect Game)

Gates may not be the most talented incoming player from a draft perspective, but he might be the most impactful this season. Not only is Gates a powerful left-handed hitter, but he also has a powerful left arm with a fastball at 88-92 mph and a swing-and-miss slider. Pitching Coach JD Arteaga said he had the best fall of any newcomer on the staff. “He throws strikes and has a very good breaking ball.” A closer has to avoid walks, HR’s, and have the right temperament for closing games. The coaching staff believes that Gates possesses all of these qualities.

Setup-

Daniel Federman- (3.53 FIP, 22.1% K rate, 9.0% BB rate, .244 BABIP)

Federman was a bit of a swing man last year; making mid-week starts and settling into a relief role for much of the season. Federman is a bulldog on the mound and comes right at hitters with a good fastball that sits in the 88-93 mph range as he adds/subtracts velocity as needed. The cutter is the pitch he uses to get out opposite-handed hitters. His mindset is perfectly suited for end-game situations.

Tyler Keysor- (Newcomer, Juco transfer from Eastern Florida State College)

Intimidating presence on the mound at 6-5, 225 pounds, Keysor had a very good fall. His fastball is 90-94 mph but what sets him apart is his curveball. The pitch has excellent tilt from an 11-to-5 angle and he also can spot a good changeup. The pitch-mix would be in a weekend rotation for a lot of clubs, but look for him to fill a relief role barring injury. Rated as the #45 draft prospect in the ACC by DI Baseball, he is a quality addition to the staff.

Specialist-

Mark Mixon- (Newcomer, Juco transfer from South Georgia State College)

Over the past several years Miami has become known for having submarine right-handed relievers and Mixon looks to join the lineage. What sets him apart from many of his predecessors is his velocity, as he can get his fastball into the 90-93 mph range from the submarine angle. Add to it an excellent slider with late breaking action and he will be very tough on right-handed hitters this season. He had 92 strikeouts in 75 innings at his Junior College last year and will be an excellent option for situations where a strikeout is needed.

Jeremy Cook- (6.97 FIP, 18.9% K rate, 21.1% BB rate, .328 BABIP)

Cook’s numbers were not pretty last season as he was unable to control the strike zone and gets hitters to chase pitches out of the zone. Cook can hit the low-90’s from the left-side and if he can take a step forward with his command, he will be a weapon against left-handed hitters this season.

Other Options-

Daniel Rivero- (Minimal appearances)

At the end of fall camp Coach Arteaga said that Rivero was Miami’s most improved pitcher. Over the summer he went to the Alaskan Summer League performed well, gained confidence, and carried it through fall camp. His velocity ticked up this year- as did his ability to command his stuff. After only eight appearances in two years, anything Rivero gives is a bonus, but he has the coach’s attention.

Albert Maury- (Missed season due to elbow surgery)

Should return by March 1st and has the ability to contribute as a long reliever if healthy.

Questions Remaining-

  • What will change under new coach DiMare? Expect a lot of the strategy to stay the same under Coach DiMare, who has been with the program many years as a player and assistant. One area that will look much different is in the use of defensive shifts this year. Miami used more shifts the FAU exhibition than perhaps all games combined under Coach Morris. Embracing a more analytical style seems to be one difference under DiMare.
  • Balancing the lineup? Miami had just 272 at-bats from left-handed hitters last season- far and away the lowest number in the ACC. The lineup had few answers for tough right-handed pitching last season and DiMare has sought to change that, bringing in six left-handed hitters in this recruiting class to help balance the lineup (Del Castillo, Vilar, Tuero, Crosbie, Lala, Gates). The additional balance gives DiMare far more options depending on the matchups each game.
  • Can the sophomores bounce back? Miami went into last season with a heralded recruiting class expected to make a big impact on the lineup. Instead, the team limped to a .317 wOBA, third-worst in the ACC. Miami will be counting on many of their freshmen-turned-sophomores to have better years at the plate. How many can do so will go a long way towards answering the question of just how good this team can be.
There is optimism inside the program that this team is capable of contending for Omaha again, but Miami will have fewer chances to secure an at-large bid this year as they have toned down the non-conference schedule in an effort to build more confidence. This team has the pitching rotation to compete with any team in the country and if the bats take a couple of steps forward: look out.

Thanks for the analysis Lance. Nice to hear Gino is embracing sabermetrics - they should hire you to watch other teams on the ACC network to help w defensive shifts.

As you point out, I believe the key will be the sophomore position players becoming leaders and elevating their play significantly, and the new rotation chewing up innings w the question marks in the bullpen.
 

S.CarolinaCane

Recruit
Joined
Jan 17, 2014
Messages
559
No confidence in Dimare. Will not recruit kids if they are committed elsewhere even when they want to talk to Miami. Would have really been nice to have the top closer in the ACC over the last two seasons.
Id say the biggest disappointment in recruiting is how dedicated we are to kids who are sure fire MLB picks
We've shot ourselves in the foot year after year with that nonsense
 

TheU 4ever

Freshman
Joined
Jan 25, 2019
Messages
477
Outstanding report Lance! So, given the personnel we have, what kind of W/L record do you think we'll achieve at the end of the year?
 

Lance Roffers

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Feb 23, 2018
Messages
632
Outstanding report Lance! So, given the personnel we have, what kind of W/L record do you think we'll achieve at the end of the year?
I’ll have a season prediction thread closer to the first game. I’ll use player projections I run and plug them into a BaseRuns conversion and find a winning percentage.

Should be a pretty good team. I like what DiMare has done in building the roster though I wish we had one more established bullpen arm.
 

canefordays

Freshman
Joined
Apr 12, 2013
Messages
303
“We worked our butts off to sign players. Yet we probably lose more players to the draft than any school in the country.”

I’ve always had an issue with Dimarre’s strategy dating back to his days as RC under 3. We have to do a better job of recruiting kids who will actually make it to campus. It’s great to have the Carlos Correa’s, Nick Castellanos, and Christian Yelich’s of the world committed. I just think we have to be a little more plugged in and plan for these kids not to make it to campus. We get decimated by the draft and we’re left in shambles. Its not anything new but Dimarre refuses to change his philosophy.
 

TheU 4ever

Freshman
Joined
Jan 25, 2019
Messages
477
I’ll have a season prediction thread closer to the first game. I’ll use player projections I run and plug them into a BaseRuns conversion and find a winning percentage.

Should be a pretty good team. I like what DiMare has done in building the roster though I wish we had one more established bullpen arm.
Thank you Lance!
 

tcgrad1014

All-ACC
Joined
Nov 5, 2011
Messages
9,744
“We worked our butts off to sign players. Yet we probably lose more players to the draft than any school in the country.”

I’ve always had an issue with Dimarre’s strategy dating back to his days as RC under 3. We have to do a better job of recruiting kids who will actually make it to campus. It’s great to have the Carlos Correa’s, Nick Castellanos, and Christian Yelich’s of the world committed. I just think we have to be a little more plugged in and plan for these kids not to make it to campus. We get decimated by the draft and we’re left in shambles. Its not anything new but Dimarre refuses to change his philosophy.
It's like "I was all set to have sex with that Victoria's Secret model until she decided she didn't like me." In other words, pretty much a waste of time and effort for nothing.
 
Joined
Aug 5, 2017
Messages
88
Entire Pitching Staff Stays Healthy Then All Nine Innings Should Be Accounted For Very Well. Rivero Looked Good As a Frosh, If He's Improved From That Then He Will Be An Asset. Maury Fully Recovered?? If He is, Another Good Option
 

EL U

Recruit
Joined
Nov 4, 2017
Messages
151
Were going to Omaha this year whether any of you porstors like it or not! Support the team win or lose or go take a hike!
 

rokulika

Great Poster
Joined
Nov 4, 2011
Messages
16,668
Lance what do you think of this?

3B Escala
LF Cloonan
SS Zamora
1B Del Castillo
2B Vilar
C Amditis
DH Quinones
RF Crosbie
CF Jenkins
 

rokulika

Great Poster
Joined
Nov 4, 2011
Messages
16,668
Not really sure where Toral fits unless he platoons with Del Castillo early on.

I'd expect for Escala to play 2B and SS when Zamora or Vilar need a blow, which might open up 3B for Gil.
 
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