Hurricanes baseball returns several talented players ahead of 2019. Freddy Zamora and Willy Escala will again anchor down the middle of the infield and hope to build on a strong foundation built last year. At the corners Ray Gil and Alex Toral will hope to continue their growth and breakout for Miami in 2019.
Since the catching room is very deep we’ll split the catchers off into their own preview article to make things a little easier.
The Returning Players
SS Freddy Zamora
2018 Statistics: .303 AVG, .412 SLG, .388 OBP, 28 RBI, 211 AB, 64 H, 12 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 24 BB
Freddy Zamora is one of the best, if not the best, player on the Hurricanes roster. He’s been consistently excellent since the start of his career at UM, and with more experience and a more developed skill set Zamora is poised for even better things in 2019. He led the team in several offensive categories including; hits, doubles, triples, walks, and total bases in 2018. In 2019 the Hurricanes infield will need Zamora to perform on the same level to help the team take the steps necessary to get back into the NCAA Tournament.
Freddy Zamora is one of the ACC’s best players and he’ll be asked to lead the Hurricanes infield, and the entire team, in 2019. His bat helps power the whole lineup, and Miami will need him to play to the best of his abilities in the coming season to have hope for a better season than the previous two.
2B Willy Escala
2018 Statistics: .280 AVG, .346 SLG, .373 OBP, 11 RBI, 182 AB, 51 H, 6 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 22 BB
Willy Escala is the other half of a very promising middle infield for the Miami Hurricanes. Him and Freddy Zamora have combined to give Miami a very exciting future up the middle of the diamond. In 2019 Escala looks to build on a strong 2018 campaign. He’ll look to add some power to his swing. Another area of improvement for Escala to focus on is the fundamental plays fielding the baseball. Escala has the capacity to make amazing plays, but the simple plays slip away from him sometimes. As a player expected to help lead the team, he’ll need to improve that area of his game to set the example for a young roster.
Willy Escala is another significant part of this Miami team. Him and Freddy Zamora will look lead Miami offensively and combine to form one of the best ACC middle of the infield duos this season.
IF Tyler Paige
2018 Statistics: .111 AVG, .111 SLG, .448 OBP, 4 RBI, 18 AB, 2 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 10 BB
Tyler Paige is another part of a promising sophomore class of infielders. He has the least experience of all of them, but he has the talent, and has a penchant for drawing walks. Paige is a great utility man, and he can fill an important role of playing anywhere for the ‘Canes in place for injuries or to give other players rest. He should see more playing time this season, which will only help him improve.
Paige has a strong foundation to build on. Obviously you’d like to see his offensive statistics go up, but he has time to develop those skills and become an important piece of the Hurricanes in 2019 and beyond.
3B Raymond Gil
2018 Statistics: .234 AVG, .367 SLG, .317 OBP, 19 RBI, 128 AB, 30 H, 6 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 14 BB
Ray Gil may be one of the most important players for Miami in 2019. The Hurricanes absolutely need his offense to improve to provide production from the hot corner, a position Miami has struggled at in the last several years. Gil had some strong performances in Summer League baseball, and showed flashes in his freshman year. He remains unproven, and Gino DiMare will need to find the right spot for him in the lineup.
Unfortunately, Gil missed nearly all of fall practice, so he needs to make up for some lost time. Especially because Miami will rely on him to anchor a very, very young infield.
1B Alex Toral
2018 Statistics: .161 AVG, .237 SLG, .322 OBP, 11 RBI, 93 AB, 15 H, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 20 BB
Alex Toral is another player that needs to turn the corner in the Hurricanes’ lineup this season. Coach DiMare has lauded Toral for emerging as a leader during fall practice and the start of spring practice, but that needs to translate to on the field success. Toral was one of the most highly touted recruits in the country out of high school, and shows good promise with patience at the plate and natural power. However, he needs to work on making contact, as a .161 batting average is just not good enough for the University of Miami.
Toral is yet another player that Miami hopes, and needs, to take the next step in 2019. He can become one of the greatest sources of power in the Hurricanes lineup if he shows improvement and reaches his immense potential.
IF Anthony Vilar
2018 Statistics: N/A
Anthony Vilar comes into Miami as a freshman hoping to make an immediate impact in the middle of the infield for the Hurricanes. He comes out of Westminster Christian as a two-time team MVP, and a 37th round pick by the Chicago Cubs. Miami hopes Vilar can help improve what has been a stagnant offense over the last several years. He has a strong swing, but like any freshman he’s a little rough around the edges.
Anthony Vilar has a lot of talent, and over his first season he’ll try to make an impact for Miami in any way he can. Expect him to see the field a lot, either as a utility infielder, or pitch hitter.
The Hurricanes have a lot of inexperience in the infield, much like anywhere else on the diamond. A lot of young players will need to step up to lead the infield. The offense has been disappointing in recent years, as has the defense, and if Miami wants to get anywhere in 2019 it starts with this position group.