Jim Morris’ final regular season in Coral Gables came to a close Saturday, May 19th against the Boston College Eagles. Miami has advanced to the ACC Tournament but at just two games above .500 overall, the Hurricanes need a some more wins to make it any farther in the postseason. John Reynolds and I are going to take a look back over the past twenty-four seasons of Morris in orange and green.
Morris came to Miami in 1994 after the firing of Brad Kelley. Morris has coached a number of All-Americans, the number one overall MLB draft pick, and two national championship teams (1999, 2001). Here is the best 9 plus the starting pitcher, reliever, and closer from the Jim Morris era at the University of Miami.
Catcher- Yasmani Grandal
Catcher is one of the toughest positions to decide between at the University of Miami. So many great players have occupied the space behind the plate for the ‘Canes, but Grandal is the standout player here from Morris’ tenure.
In his time at the University of Miami Grandal was a standout player. Before campus, Yasmani was the No.19 prospect in the 2008 class, and he lived up to expectations. In his freshman season he came on strong at the end of the year, eventually being named to the Coral Gables Regional All-Tournament Team. By his sophomore season in 2009, people expected a lot from the young catcher.
He didn’t disappoint. He led the team in homeruns with 16, and batted .299 over the course of the season. By the end of the year he was named to the All-ACC Second Team, and in 2010 Grandal was considered one of the best players in College Baseball. He was a preseason First Team All-American in his final season at Miami, and led the Hurricanes to a 43-20 record before being drafted 12th overall in the 2010 MLB Draft.
As for now, Grandal has turned himself into a solid MLB catcher. He was an All-Star in 2015, and in 2018 he’s playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, hoping to make another deep postseason run come October.
First Base- Aubrey Huff
Aubrey Huff is one half of one of Miami’s most storied hitting pairs in Hurricanes’ history. Along with Pat Burrell, Huff led Miami to a streak of CWS appearances and NCAA Tournament success. Huff is a member of Miami’s Sports Hall of Fame, and appears in the Hurricanes’ record books several times.
After two years at Vernon College, Huff transferred to the University of Miami to complete his collegiate career. In his two seasons at Miami the powerful first baseman recorded a .400 batting average, the second best mark in school history. Additionally, he holds the Miami record for most RBIs in a season, with 95 in 1998. By the end of the 1998 season Huff was one of America’s best players, and he was a consensus First Team All-American for his efforts on the season.
He was selected in the fifth round of the 1998 MLB Draft, and over a major league career spanning twelve seasons Huff was a two time World Series Champion and a Silver Slugger Award recipient. He’s one of the greatest Hurricanes of all time, and it would be hard for another first baseman to dethrone this legend in the Miami record books.
Second Base- Jemile Weeks
Jemile Weeks came to the University of Miami as a highly touted prospect. Weeks had been drafted in the 8th round of the 2005 MLB Draft but his brother Rickie, also a professional baseball player, guided Jemile to the college baseball world. Weeks’ had a stellar career at Miami culminating in an All-American nod after the 2008 season. Weeks reentered the MLB Draft in 2008 and was selected 12th overall in the first round.
Over his three seasons in Coral Gables, Weeks hit .341 with 24 home runs and 129 runs batted in. In the Miami history books, Weeks is eight overall for career runs scored, and holds the record for most career triples with 19.
In the MLB Weeks has had an up and down career hanging around the majors from 2011-2016. A career .254 hitter, Weeks is spending the 2018 season in the Mexican League.
Shortstop- Bobby Hill
Bobby Hill played for the Miami Hurricanes from 1998-2000 and is a member of the Miami Sports Hall of Fame. Hill, a a 5th round pick out of high school, chose to play college baseball instead. As a freshman, Hill hit .404 and scored 87 runs. Then in 1999, Hill hit .391 and stole 52 bases on the national championship squad. With a career batting average of .360, Hill is one of the most dominant contact hitters in ‘Canes history. Hill is second in carer history in runs scored and the career leader in stolen bases with 139. Hill started his career at second base but moved to shortstop once Alex Cora moved on to the pros.
In the MLB, Hill was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2000 and made his MLB debut in 2002. Hill hung around the majors from 2002-2005 with the Cubs and Padres. Hill had a .252 lifetime batting average in the Majors driving in 58 runs while playing a utility infielder role.
Third Base- Pat Burrell (Justin)
Pat “The Bat” Burrell played for the ‘Canes from 1996-1998 when he left the ‘Canes to become the 1st overall pick of the 1998 MLB amateur draft. Out of high school, Burrell was selected in the 43rd round of the MLB Draft. As a freshman, Burrell hit .484 with 23 home runs and 64 RBI’s. He was a first-team All-American and the College World Series MVP, even though Miami failed to win the title. As a sophomore, Burrell hit .409 with with 21 home runs and 76 RBI’s while being labeled an All-American and member of Team USA. During his junior season Burrell was out injured and played first and third base for the ‘Canes. Burrell hit .432 with 17 home runs in limited duty while leading Miami to the CWS for the third consecutive year.
After his first overall selection to the Phillies, Burrell played in the majors from his debut in 2000-2011 winning the World Series in both 2008 and 2010 while playing for the Phillies, Rays and Giants over his career. Burrell ended his career a .253 hitter with 292 home runs and 976 runs batted in.
Outfield- Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun came to Miami as quite possibly the nation’s best High School shortstop. In his freshman season he took the College Baseball world by storm. Leading Miami in nearly every statistical category and earning Freshman All-American Honors and First Team All-American Honors.
His sophomore season would be plagued by injuries, but in his junior season Braun once again led Miami in nearly every facet of the game. He batted an outstanding .396 on the season. By the end of the year Braun had been named ACC Player of the Year, and was once again an All-American selection.
In 2005 Braun was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round of the MLB Draft. Since making his MLB Debut in 2007 Braun has gone on to put together a fantastic career. A six time All-Star, Braun was the NL MVP in 2011, and is a five time Silver Slugger Award recipient. Unfortunately Braun’s MLB career has been marred by several accusations of performance-enhancing drug use, including a 65 game suspension in 2013.
Outfield- Jason Michaels (Justin)
Jason Michaels signed with the Hurricanes for the 1997 season after playing JUCO baseball at Okaloosa-Walton Junior College. Michaels was with the ‘Canes from 1997-1998 and helped guide Miami to the College World Series in both seasons he was in Coral Gables. Playing the outfield, Michaels flashed his athleticism which was a family trait as his grandfather was an MLB pitcher and father was a quarterback at West Virginia.
An all-around great player, Michaels hit .396 in his career at Miami and is in the record books in the top ten for runs scored in a season, hits in a season, and 2nd in carer slugging percentage behind Pat Burrell. Michaels was an All-American for the ‘Canes and his a UM Hall of Fame member.
Also drafted by the Phillies in 1998, Michaels made his debut in 2001 and played in the majors through the 2011 season. Michaels played for the Phillies, Indians, Pirates and Astros while hitting .263 over his MLB career.
Outfield- Jon Jay
Jon Jay was a standout player in his career at Miami. Over three seasons in orange and green the Miami native would record a career .378 batting average, becoming one of the best outfielders to come through Coral Gables.
He earned All-ACC Honors in both his sophomore and junior seasons, and was a Third Team and Second Team All-American, (he really should’ve been on the First Team both seasons). Jay has the fourth highest career batting average in UM school history, and has the fifth most hits of any Hurricane ever.
After three stellar seasons at Miami Jay was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the second round of the 2006 MLB Draft. He’s carved out a good career in the MLB, playing as a utility outfielder for the Cardinals, Padres, Cubs, and Royals since his Major League debut in 2010. With a respectable .288 career average and good fielding, it’s safe to say that Jon Jay may have a few more years as an MLB caliber player left before he has to hang up the cleats.
Designated Hitter- Yonder Alonso
Yonder Alonso is one of the most storied hitters of Jim Morris’ tenure. His father played in the Cuban National league before his family defected to Miami when he was just nine years old. Alonso grew up in the shadow of Mark Light Field, and when he was drafted in 2005 he spurned the MLB to go have a great career at the University of Miami.
Alonso made an immediate impact at UM. In his freshman season he knocked in 69 RBIs, which led the team, and batted .295 as the team went all the way to the College World Series. As a sophomore Alonso was even batter, earning a .376 average, 18 homeruns, and 74 RBI, all of which led the team.
In 2008 Alonso did nearly the exact same thing he had done the year prior. He was a preseason All-American, and led the ‘Canes to an ACC Championship and another appearance in Omaha. He became a first round pick in the MLB Draft, and has worked to earn a solid career in the MLB, making an All-Star appearance in 2017. Since 2010 Alonso has played for several different teams, but currently plays for the Cleveland Indians. Look for his name to appear on a lineup card in October, when the Indians will hope to make another deep postseason run.
Starting Pitcher- Alex Santos (Justin)
Alex Santos donned the orange and green from 1997-1999 serving as a starting pitcher on Jim Morris’ teams. Santos won the national championship as part of the 1999 squad. During his freshman season, Santos was 9-3 in 14 starts posting a 4.17 ERA. His breakout season was the 1998 campaign where he finished 15-1 in 18 starts with a 2.54 ERA. His junior season was even more successful as he was 13-3 in 20 starts with a 2.95 ERA and 386 strikeouts over his career.
A post-season success story, Santos was 2-0 as a sophomore and 2-0 in 1999’s CWS while he won the deciding CWS title game over Florida State. Alex Santos finished his Miami career as an All-American and a UM Hall of Fame member.
As a pro, Santos was drafted in the 4th round of the 1999 MLB Draft. Santos never made his major league debut but hung around the minor leagues from 2000-2006. In the minors he was 27-33 with a 4.31 ERA over his career.
Relief Pitcher- Jay Tessmer (Justin)
From 1994-1995, Jay Tessmer was a relief pitcher for Jim Morris’ first two season with the Miami Hurricanes. Tessmer, a 6’3 190 pound submarine pitcher, was actually cut from the team his first two seasons in Coral Gables. As a junior, Morris rethought his submarine approach and Tessmer was the set-up man for Danny Graves in 1994. As the set-up man, Tessmer pitches 70 innings over 40 appearances posting a 1.16 ERA and 6-2 record. In 1995 as the closer, Tessmer logged 20 saves in 45 appearances with an ERA of 1.31 and a record of 3-2. While at Miami, Tessmer was an All-American, a member of Team USA, and a team captain of the Hurricanes as as senior. He finished his Miami career and was later inducted to the Miami Sports Hall of Fame.
As a pro, Tessmer was drafted in the 19th round of the 1995 MLB Draft and made his debut during the 1998 season. Tessmer finished his MLB career with a 7.71 ERA in 22 appearances. He made 433 minor league appearances picking up 176 saves with a 2.99 ERA.
Closer- Bryan Garcia
Bryan Garcia is quite possibly the greatest closer in the history of Miami baseball. He holds the record for saves as a Hurricane, and earned the 2016 Stopper of the Year Award given annually to the nation’s best relief pitcher. He had a career 2.02 ERA, and if it wasn’t for a somewhat disappointing 2.50 mark in his sophomore season that career ERA would be even lower.
A First Team All-American, three time All-ACC selection, and all around nationally recognized pitcher. Garcia led the Hurricanes to two consecutive College World Series appearances in 2015 and 2016. He is tied for the most career saves in ACC History, and is undoubtedly one of the greatest bullpen arms to ever be on campus in Coral Gables.
He was selected in the sixth round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers (shoutout to Cam) and is one of baseball’s top bullpen prospects. Unfortunately he’ll miss the 2018 season with an elbow injury, but expect to see him playing in the MLB if he fully recovers from surgery.
The Last Out
Jim Morris has won two national titles, and has won over 1,500 games. Individual awards have never mattered to the man that wore 3 for over two decades while working the dugout of Mark Light Stadium, but Morris also has been ACC Coach of the Year four times (1983, 1987, 1993, 2008). Only six coaches in the history of college baseball have more wins that Morris, and that list includes iconic names like Mike Martin, Sr and Augie Garrido. Hopefully with Morris retiring Miami baseball can return to the post-season with a good performance in the ACC Tournament, but no matter what the results are- it will be strange to not have him as the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.