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This Week in ‘Canes Baseball: February 17 Edition

The Hurricanes season gets underway in Gainesville this weekend.

Credit: Miami Athletics

The 21st ranked Miami Hurricanes begin their season this Friday afternoon when they take on the No.1 Florida Gators in Gainesville as they open their new stadium. Daniel Federman will take the mound on Friday afternoon as the Hurricanes’ ace, with two freshmen following him in the rotation.

Miami comes into the season as a consensus Top 25 team and rank as high as 6th in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s preseason poll. Adrian Del Castillo and Alex Toral have also been named consensus preseason All-Americans, as the two players anchor what should be one of the best lineups in the country. In addition, the Hurricanes were voted to finish first in the ACC Coastal by the ACC’s coaches ahead of the season. The Hurricanes should be well positioned to compete for the ACC title and to host a super regional this season, if the pitching staff, especially Alejandro Rosario and Victor Mederos, can settle in.

Weekend Series @ No.1 Florida Gators

COLLEGE BASEBALL: FEB 22 Miami at Florida Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Miami will play one of the toughest series on their schedule in the first week of the season. The Florida Gators are the consensus No.1 team in the country ahead of the year and they have one of the most complete rosters in the country.

Gators ace Tommy Mace is one of the best starting pitchers in the nation, and he’ll try to shut down the Hurricanes in the opening game of the series. Last year Mace pitched against Miami on Friday night of the series. He threw seven innings and allowed just one earned run while striking out eight. Mace will hope to repeat that performance against a similar Hurricanes lineup, which remains one of the deepest in the country.

On offense, the Gators are led by two preseason All-SEC selections, outfielder Jud Fabian and shortstop Josh Rivera. The Gators are a quality offensive team and they have depth up and down the lineup. In addition, the Gators had three players with batting averages over .300 in last year’s shortened season, all of them return this year.

The Hurricanes starting rotation remains the biggest question surrounding the team ahead of this weekend, and ahead of the season overall. Daniel Federman hopes for success in his return to starting pitching. In 2018, when Federman was a freshman, he started four mid-week games. Federman was 2-4 overall that season, but pitched to a 1.75 ERA. Behind him, talented freshmen Alejandro Rosario and Victor Mederos will start on Saturday and Sunday. Both are excellent prospects who are poised to be three or four year members of the Hurricanes starting rotation. Rosario routinely throws his fastball in the mid-to-high 90s, and has worked on his off-speed pitches with J.D. Arteaga throughout the fall and spring. Mederos came out of high school with a well established set of off-speed pitches; the key for him will be making sure he throws strikes as a starter.

On offense the Hurricanes face a tough challenge facing one of the best starting rotations in the country. Adrian Del Castillo leads the Hurricanes’ lineup and is a contender for ACC Player of the Year, while Alex Toral will be a contender to lead the ACC in home runs. Freshman Yohandy Morales will be another key piece for the Hurricanes this season, and he could start at third base this weekend as Ray Gil returns from an injury. After Gil’s return, Anthony Vilar and Morales should combine with Gil and Toral to give Miami one of the strongest infields in all of college baseball.

This weekend will see a matchup between two teams that hope to see each other again in Omaha. Miami has circled this weekend on the calendar for an entire year after three tough losses in this series last season. It’ll be another hard-fought weekend this year, and whoever wins the series will have made a strong early statement for the rest of the 2021 college baseball season.

Series Info

Game 1

Date & Time: Friday, February 19, 3:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Daniel Federman (2020: 0-1, 1.62 ERA)

Florida Starter: Tommy Mace (2020: 3-0, 1.67 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: SEC Network

Game 2

Date & Time: Saturday, February 20, 1:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Alejandro Rosario (2020: N/A)

Florida Starter: Jack Leftwich (2020: 2-0, 4.15 ERA)

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: SEC Network+ (ESPN3)

Game 3

Date & Time: Sunday, February 21, 1:00 P.M. Eastern

Hurricanes Starter: Victor Mederos (2020: N/A)

Florida Starter: Nick Pogue (2020: 1-1, 5.23 ERA)

Update: Nick Pogue will miss the season with Tommy John surgery. UF has not yet released their final starting rotation.

Radio: WVUM 90.5 FM

Television: SEC Network+ (ESPN3)