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Previewing Miami’s 2020 Pitching Staff

Miami will hope that talented youth can provide dominant performances on the mound in 2020.

Credit: Miami Athletics

Miami’s pitching staff is quite possibly the biggest question for the team heading into 2020. The Hurricanes have plenty of talent, but limited experience, and as a result the staff will probably improve greatly as the season goes on.

The biggest challenge for the ‘Canes to overcome will be finding bullpen arms to trust. Miami will be without 2019 closer Greg Veliz after he was drafted and signed with the Los Angeles Angels. As a result, the only experienced reliever on the Hurricanes’ staff is Daniel Federman, so there will be big shoes to fill in the back end of the bullpen.

Returning Players

SP Brian Van Belle

2019 Statistics: 10-2, 3.30 ERA, 95.1 IP, 84 K, 24 BB, .247 BAA

2019 All-ACC Second Team

2020 Second-Team Preseason All-American

Brian Van Belle was one of the best pitchers in the ACC last season and he should enter 2020 as Miami’s ace. Van Belle is an elite control pitcher who does a good job of drawing ground balls for easy outs and letting his defense work behind him. Last season he stepped up big when several key pieces of Miami’s rotation were hurt for significant stretches of time and was more than up to the task. This season he should also be further helped by pitching in more night games at home, which will help his pitching-to-contact style because the ball won’t fly as far as it did when Van Belle pitched on Sundays last season.

Expect Van Belle to be the cornerstone of the entire Miami pitching staff in 2020. He’ll almost certainly enter the season as the ace of the rotation and could be one of the best pitchers in the entire country in the coming year.

SP Chris McMahon

2019 Statistics: 3-2, 3.73 ERA, 60.1 IP, 67 K, 23 BB, .229 BAA

2019 USA Collegiate Baseball National Team Member

Chris McMahon should again start on Saturdays for the ‘Canes in 2020 after dominating in that spot last season. McMahon overcame an injury that came in his freshman campaign to have a dominant sophomore year, and then followed up his performance for the Hurricanes by making it to Team USA last summer. Then, to cap off his already fantastic year, he was ranked as the 39th best prospect for the upcoming MLB Draft. If McMahon cuts down on his walks and cleans up a few more areas of his game he could become an elite college pitcher. If he finds that control, him and Brian Van Belle could become the core pieces of one of the best rotations in the country. To make things even more exciting, McMahon was throwing as fast as 98 mph consistently this fall.

McMahon will look to have another solid season for the ‘Canes, hopefully finally getting a year that’s completely injury free. If McMahon continues his current trajectory he could improve drastically and become a high MLB Draft Pick come June.

SP Slade Cecconi

2019 Statistics: 5-4, 4.16 ERA, 80.0 IP, 89 K, 18 BB, .249 BAA

2019 Freshman All-American

Slade Cecconi is another talented, hard-throwing Miami starting pitcher, and was one of the best freshmen in the country at any position last season. Cecconi progressively improved as 2019 went on and his best performance of the year came in a losing effort in Miami’s last game of the season against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Cecconi struggles to avoid giving up a big inning in each of his starts, and if he can learn to settle in and pitch better from the stretch he should see drastic improvement in 2020. The Hurricanes will need to savor Cecconi while they have him, because he is a draft-eligible sophomore and is already ranked as the 35th best prospect for next year’s MLB Draft. If he pitches well this year, Cecconi could hear his name called in the top half of the first round next June.

Cecconi will challenge to move into the Friday or Saturday spots of the starting rotation and will be a huge piece of everything the Hurricanes will try to do this season. If he remains Miami’s third starter, he’d be one of the best Sunday starters in the ACC.

SP/RP Tyler Keysor

2019 Statistics: 6-1, 3.78 ERA, 47.2 IP, 38 K, 16 BB, .267 BAA

Tyler Keysor was a key piece of Miami’s pitching staff last season. He performed well in a role that saw him pitch in relief and occasionally as a starter. This season he’ll look to be a leader as one of the few seniors on a young Hurricanes team. It’s unclear how Keysor will be used this season, but if he gets mostly bullpen work he could be a key late reliever for a Hurricanes bullpen that needs to rebuild. Keysor could be one of the surprises of the season for Miami after a solid, but mostly unrecognized 2019.

Tyler Keysor figures to be a key piece for the 2020 Hurricanes’ pitching staff. One of Keysor’s best qualities is his flexibility to pitch as a starter and in relief, which could be a huge help for Gino DiMare this season.

SP/RP/DH JP Gates

2019 Statistics: 1-1, 5.82 ERA, 17.0 IP, 18 K, 18 BB, .292 BAA

Before last season JP Gates was thought to be a premier pitcher with a strong bat as his secondary skill. While Gates still has immense talent on the mound, his bat became a key part of the Hurricanes lineup and that prevented him from getting more innings in 2019. Towards the end of the season the coaching staff became more creative in their deployment of Gates, and in 2020 he could be a key piece of the ‘Canes offensively and defensively. While he had a rough statistical freshman season, Gates pitched well at the end of the year and could be another set-up option for Gino DiMare.

Gates is one of the most interesting players on Miami’s team purely because of questions surrounding how and where he will play in 2020. Gates figures to see most of his use on offense, but could still be an important piece of the Miami pitching staff.

RP Daniel Federman

2019 Statistics: 3-5, 7 SVs, 3.51 ERA, 48.2 IP, 60 K, 19 BB, .246 BAA

Miami’s most important pitcher in 2020 might be Daniel Federman. The junior has become a great late-innings reliever, and is the only pitcher on the roster with any experience closing games. Federman is a level-headed, talented, and smart pitcher who knows how to outthink opposing hitters at the end of games. He is the unquestioned anchor of the bullpen heading into the coming season. The ‘Canes will need him to be a key part of closing out their biggest games, and hopefully wins, of the year.

Daniel Federman is one of the best players on Miami’s roster. He can pitch multiple innings, and has no fear in pitching in the biggest moments in the Hurricanes’ games. Gino DiMare will lean on him heavily at the back end of the bullpen this season.

RP Albert Maury, Jr.

2019 Statistics: 1-0, 5.87 ERA, 23.0 IP, 21 K, 15 BB, .253 BAA

Albert Maury was one of the best pitchers on Miami’s roster in his freshman season in 2017. Unfortunately, in 2018 Maury was forced to get Tommy John surgery and didn’t take the mound at all for the Hurricanes that season. Last year, Maury returned for the ‘Canes a few weeks into the season and pitched well for Miami in low-leverage situations. He has the talent to be a key reliever for Miami. This season, Maury could be one of the key pieces on Miami’s roster if he returns to his 2017 form.

Maury has been through a lot in his time at Miami, but this season he should finally be back to full strength for the Hurricanes. If he returns to form, Gino DiMare could look to him to be one of his most important pieces out of the bullpen this season.

RP Alex Ruiz

2019 Statistics: 1-0, 1.04 ERA, 8.2 IP, 6 K, 3 BB, .194 BAA

Alex Ruiz has pitched sparingly in his two seasons at Miami. In his true freshman season Ruiz was hurt and didn’t appear in a game for the Hurricanes. Last year, Ruiz made just eight appearances. In those eight appearances, Ruiz was dominant, pitching to an eye-popping 1.04 ERA and throwing three scoreless innings in the Starkville Regional. Ruiz is another under-the-radar player for the ‘Canes. If he can stay healthy and show consistency in his play for Miami he could become one of the most important members of the pitching staff this year.

Ruiz will hope to avoid injury in 2020 and find consistency in order to take the next step in his collegiate career. Ruiz has the talent to have success, he just has to have luck in dealing with uncontrollable factors that have derailed his career so far.

Newcomers

SP/RP Alex McFarlane

2019 Statistics: N/A

Alex McFarlane was the gem of Miami’s recruiting class and will be expected to play a huge role for the pitching staff this season. McFarlane was drafted in the 25th round by the St. Louis Cardinals, but decided to stay true to his commitment to the University of Miami. McFarlane is a lanky 6-3 right handed pitcher who has a fastball that sits in the 95 mph range. His main weapon is undoubtedly his fastball, which he occasionally adds cutting action too, but in the later part of his high school career he was working on a breaking ball with good sweeping motion.

It’s not yet clear how McFarlane will be used this season, but he shows immense potential as both a starter and a reliever. He figures to play a crucial role as a huge young piece of the Hurricanes 2020 roster.

RP Spencer Bodanza

2019 Statistics (Hillsborough CC): 1-2, 3.08 ERA, 26.1 IP, 27 K, 10 BB

Spencer Bodanza is an intriguing JUCO transfer who figures to see a role as a reliever in the orange and green in 2020. Bodanza pitched well for Hillsborough Community College in Tampa last season in a relief role, and he’ll hope to replicate that success at the NCAA level this season. Bodanza will bring key relief experience to a Miami team with limited experience in the bullpen.

Bodanza should play an important role as a leader and experienced voice for Miami’s bullpen this season. His experience and pitching quality will provide huge help to the ‘Canes, especially in the early season.

SP/RP Yordani Carmona

2019 Statistics: N/A

Yordani Carmona is a 6-2, 195 lb left-handed pitcher out of Monsignor Pace High School. Carmona is a key pitcher in a left-handed heavy Miami recruiting class. He could slot in as one of the Hurricanes’ most important pitchers this season due to the side he pitches from. Carmona works with a 90 mph fastball with a strong curveball that plays well off of it. He’s working on adding a changeup to his arsenal, but still needs to work on maintaining his arm speed on that pitch. Carmona’s most important tools are his off-speed pitches and having control with those will be his key to having success in his freshman season at Miami.

Carmona could come in and be one of the key pieces of the bullpen puzzle at Miami as a left-handed specialist. He could see a significant amount of innings in 2020.

SP/RP Alex Munroe

2019 Statistics: N/A

Alex Munroe is a solid left-handed pitcher who comes into Miami with a 90 mph fastball and a well-developed slurve to compliment it. Munroe, like Carmona, is working on developing a changeup, and, similarly, relies on control and pitch selection to get outs. Munroe will hope to add strength at Miami and add some velocity to his fastball, which would help improve the off-speed pitches he’s developed as his primary weapons to get batters out. Overall, he’s a less polished pitcher than Carmona as he enters his freshman year, and he should be a player to watch for improvement from as the season goes on.

Munroe is a talented lefty with very good tools and pitches to work with out of high school. As 2020 goes on he should improve and potentially see an increased role by the end of the season.

SP/RP Carson Palmquist

2019 Statistics: N/A

Carson Palmquist is an interesting left-handed pitcher out of Riverdale High School in Fort Myers, FL. Palmquist’s best pitch is probably his changeup, which he already throws with good arm speed and control. His fastball ranged from 85-90 mph in high school but could see some added velocity as he grows into his 6-3 frame in college. Palmquist is the least-developed pitcher of the four lefties joining Miami this year, but he has a lot of potential to grow into as time goes on.

Palmquist is yet another pitcher who might serve in a limited role to start the year but should see more playing time as the year goes on. He has the chance to become a very, very good pitcher if he develops into his frame well in college.

SP/RP Jake Garland

2019 Statistics: N/A

Jake Garland is a talented right-handed pitcher with a very well developed curveball with good movement and solid control. Garland compliments his curveball with a low-90s fastball that plays well off of his breaking pitch. He could be a great piece of the Hurricanes and a steal in this recruiting class if he continues to develop his curveball and makes it into an elite pitch. Collegiate hitters tend to struggle with good breaking balls, and if Garland can continue to improve his he could be a key piece of Miami’s pitching staff moving forward.

Garland, much like Carson Palmquist, will develop over time and grow into a larger role later in the season and in his career. He has a great foundation to build on with his solid curveball and the good velocity on his fastball.


Miami’s pitching staff has an abundance of talent, especially in the starting rotation. The biggest question for this group in 2020 will be how Gino DiMare and J.D. Arteaga put together the bullpen to close out games throughout the season.