The Miami Hurricanes baseball team starts ACC play against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Friday, March 9th. Miami wraps up their series with Maine Sunday at 11:30am before heading to nearby FIU for a midweek game on Wednesday, March 7th. The same issues ailing the Miami Hurricanes in 2017 are back in 2018. The ‘Canes are sitting at 4-6 overall having lost games to Missouri, Rutgers, Florida and Maine. Florida is a top 5 program but Rutgers and Maine should be swept series. Times have changed and Miami is struggling to show they’ll make the post-season in 2018.
Miami’s lineup has been given a shot in the arm by transfer Danny Reyes and the return of catcher Michael Amditis. Reyes transferred to Miami from Broward Community College after starting his career at Florida. Reyes is hitting .400 with a home run in seven games. However, Reyes injured his thumb against FAU and will be out five to six weeks. This leaves Michael Perez, a pitcher turned infielder, to steady the lineup. Perez is hitting .375 with 2 home runs through eight games and Amditis is the only other Hurricane batter hitting over .300.
The Hurricanes coaches had to know that playing an infield of all freshmen would result in low scoring games. The ‘Canes lineup against Rutgers was loaded with first year players like Raymond Gil, Alex Toral, Willy Escala, and Freddy Zamora. The adjustment to college pitching and classes has often proven to be too much for players. Not everyone is Pat Burrell who walks in as a freshman and hits .484 with 23 home runs. Then again, the bats have been changed and are no longer the aluminum home run machines of the 90’s. In 2012, the ‘Canes started freshman catcher Garrett Kennedy who hit .165 but played well behind the plate and eventually hit .320 as a senior. If Miami can keep this squad together they could see the same growth from the batter’s box.
The all-freshman infield is loaded with raw talent, and they’ve made some exciting plays. But the Hurricanes defense has been error plagued committing 16 errors in only ten games. Opponents have committed only ten errors in 2018. The veteran squad from 2016, that went to the College World Series, committed only 42 errors in 62 games. Miami’s pitching staff is actually dealing better than in 2016 but the unearned runs will stop Miami’s chances from being competitive in the ACC that features five teams in the top 25 including number three Florida State.
Miami needs veteran poise and leadership from junior IF/OF Romy Gonzalez, and outfielder Michael Burns. Burns transferred to Miami a year ago and the Colorado native hit .247 adjusting to Division I pitching. Burns is hitting .275 and along with Reyes and Perez have to keep the ‘Canes runs adding up for Miami to make the 2018 post-season. The pitching staff is doing fine with Jeb Bargfeld and Greg Veliz producing. Miami needs to find a Sunday starter between Evan McKendry and Michael Mediavilla. The bullpen has been led by freshmen Danny Federman and Jeremy Cook, and veteran Cooper Hammond. Veteran Andrew Cabezas has struggled so far in 2018 in the closer role. 2017’s closer Frankie Bartow is out injured.