The preseason accolades have begun to roll in for the Miami Hurricanes baseball program as the ‘Canes were ranked No.6 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s preseason poll. The Hurricanes also had three players named preseason All-Americans by the publication ahead of the 2021 season.
Miami was joined by four other ACC teams in the preseason Top 25. The Hurricanes were the highest ranked team from the conference, with Louisville at No.11, NC State at No.13, Virginia at No.14, and Clemson at No.25. Florida State, Duke, and Notre Dame all finished just outside the Top 25. In-state rival Florida was ranked No.1.
The Hurricanes don’t yet have a schedule for the 2021 season, as the ACC has just finalized the schedule structure for this year. However, Miami will definitely take on Virginia, Duke, and Florida State because the first two are division rivals and the later is always a crossover opponent in the Atlantic Division of the conference. The ACC will play 50 games this season with 36 conference games over 12 weekends and 14 non-conference games. The conference normally plays 30 conference games but has added two conference series due to the coronavirus pandemic.
BREAKING: @theACC athletic directors voted on and approved college baseball’s season framework for 2021 this week.— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogers) December 18, 2020
The #ACC will play:
* 50 overall games
* 36 conference games (12 weekends)
* 14 nonconference games (can be played as midweeks or weekends)
Collegiate Baseball Newspaper also named three Hurricanes preseason All-Americans ahead of the 2021 season. Catcher Adrian Del Castillo, quite possibly the best player in the country, was named to the first-team, and Alex Toral and USC transfer Ben Wanger joined him on the second-team.
Del Castillo has seen several preseason accolades so far, and is considered a unanimous Top 5 prospect in the 2021 MLB Draft. Del Castillo is No.4 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Draft Prospects and with a good season he stands a strong chance at being the No.1 pick in the draft. This year, the Hurricanes should have the best catcher in all of college baseball, and it could be argued that Del Castillo could be the best hitter in college baseball as well.
Speaking of hitters, first baseman Alex Toral was named to the second-team after returning to college due to not being drafted in last year’s shortened five round draft. Toral, and teammate Ray Gil, decided ahead of the draft last year that it was likely they would return to Miami, and as a result the Hurricanes could have one of the best corner infield duos in the nation. Toral is one of the best power hitters in the country, and his defense, which was below-average at best when he enrolled at Miami, has steadily improved over the last two seasons. He is a leader for the Hurricanes and one of Miami’s key players heading into 2021.
USC transfer Ben Wanger joined Toral on the second-team. Wanger was excellent in just a few games at USC last season and didn’t allow an earned run through 6.1 innings pitched last year. Wanger is also a quality hitter, joining JP Gates and Michael Rosario as two-way players on Miami’s roster. Wanger had a .410 batting average through 39 at-bats last season and added four doubles and seven walks to his offensive stats for the year. Before USC, Wanger was one of the best players in the Ivy League at Yale, and he’ll be key piece of the Hurricanes pitching staff this season as Gino DiMare and J.D. Arteaga must replace key pitching talent that departed after last season.
The Hurricanes have all the pieces to be one of the best teams in college baseball yet again in 2021. Despite several key departures the Hurricanes still have the talent and experience to make the College World Series this season.
For the full poll, click on the link in the tweet below:
Florida is ranked No. 1 in Collegiate Baseball’s Fabulous 50 pre-season poll presented by Big League Chew bubble gum. The Gators (16-1 in 2020) return 8 position player starters plus a boatload of pitching. For top 50, go to: https://t.co/5qF8fy7LAW@GatorsBB @bigleaguechew pic.twitter.com/Fe0fANpQeo— Collegiate Baseball (@CBNewspaper) December 21, 2020