The tension was palpable this past Sunday, and the stage was set for a big matchup at Mark Light Field. After a long season, the choices were few on who could pitch, and the stakes were very high for Miami. You either win a chance to play in the college world series, or lose an opportunity at the title. It was Miami’s biggest game of the year, and the Hurricanes’ season in balance. Jim Morris made a bold decision on the mound. Rather than going with a more experienced starter, Morris gave the ball to true freshman Andrew Cabezas to open things up.
The move surprised many who expected a player such as Jesse Lepore to start the game, but while many questioned the move, Miami’s coaching staff was confident in their decision. Cabezas has gone under the national radar this year, but after holding his opponents to a .234 batting average during his freshman season, Miami knew he could get the job done.
Despite having pitched the prior day, Cabezas pitched the first 2 ⅔ innings in this one, and despite giving up two runs, left the mound with Miami on top. Although at times this year his pitching stats have fluctuated, when Cabezas locks in and plays his game, he has been dominant since day 1.
Out of Miami Gardens, Florida, Cabezas has made his mark over the course of his career. Ranked as the 7th best pitcher in the class of 2015, Cabezas was in the national spotlight during his days at Coral Gables Senior High School. During his senior season, Cabezas dominated florida hitters with 84 strikeouts and a jaw-dropping 0.39 ERA. Cabezas’ approach at the mound combined with his 6-3 record made noise within the county, and helped him earn the Miami Herald’s first team All-Dade honors in 2015. Cabezas simply overpowered batters with his variety of pitches, and deceived hitters at the plate.
Cabezas was drafted in the 34th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, but decided to decline the offer and attend college at the University of Miami. Cabezas entered a Miami roster that had recently lost talent such as top pitcher Andrew Suarez. Suarez left big shoes to fill, and while Medivilla ended up becoming Miami’s ace, Cabezas has played a major role in stepping up after senior Thomas Woodrey’s inning decrease.
This season Cabezas has made his impact mostly through relief pitching. Despite multiple starts this season, Cabezas has been one of Jim Morris’ top 2 relief pitchers, and has improved throughout the year. In a string of six appearances midway through the year, Cabezas struck out multiple batters, and struck out 49 overall on the year.
Cabezas has increased his level of play over the course of 2016, and is playing his best baseball at the perfect time of the year. Cabezas’ future success is not only enhancing his individual resume, but is also crucial for Miami’s chances at hoisting a championship trophy.
At this time of the year, teams must have a deep bullpen to be able to compete on a national stage. Players such as junior Ryan Guerra who only pitched 10 innings on the year end up making appearances, and the success of the season may rest in that pitcher’s glove. Senior Thomas Woodrey has seen a decrease in innings due to his recent lack of performance, which puts even more stress on the bullpen to step up. Consecutive days on the mound should not be a rarity for Cabezas’ moving forward, and if Miami wants to make a run, this young star must shine brighter than ever.