The state of the University of Miami’s basketball and baseball programs have been frustrating as of late. Namely, the baseball team was dropped out of the rankings after getting swept by Pitt as they sit at 18-11 and the basketball team has seen a mass exodus of transfer with the likes of Chris Lykes, Nysier Brooks, Earl Timberlake, and others opting for the NCAA transfer portal, as Isaiah Wong entered his name into the NBA Draft (but maintains college eligibility).
There is some reason for optimism as George Mason guard, Jordan Miller, has committed to Miami through the portal, catcher Adrian Del Castillo has been on a tear as he is projected to be a first round pick in this year’s MLB Draft, and there is promising youth movement on the diamond led by Yohandry Morales, Alejandro Rosario, Carson Palmquist, and Victor Mederos.
Regardless, the Canes have seen better days and that is evident based on some of the ProCanes at the NBA and MLB level.
Lonnie Walker IV and Bruce Brown Jr. Dominate NBA
In the NBA, there are only two active players but they are thriving during breakout seasons. Both Walker and Brown were part of the 2018 draft class, Walker being a one-and-done who went 17th overall, and Brown going 42nd.
Walker has already started in 30 games (previous best being 12 games) and is averaging a career high 11.5 points, 1.6 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and has been a highlight reel with his athletic dunks (such as the embedded tweet). Brown, who had steady growth during his sophomore season on the Detroit Pistons, has been a consummate contributor on arguably the best team in the NBA this year, the Brooklyn Nets. Brown, who relies on his hustle, has put up career highs this season in points (29), steals (5), blocks (3), and rebounds (14). Walker’s Spurs are currently on the cusp of playoff contention, while Brown’s Nets are a lock.
CatcherU Remains Prevalent in the MLB
After an abridged 2020 MLB season, the biggest storyline of amongst MLB ProCanes comes from the fifth overall pick in the 2005 MLB Draft: Ryan Braun. The Milwaukee Brewers all-time home run leader said he hasn’t picked up a bat since 2020 and is strongly leaning towards retirement. This comes on the heels of another Miami legend and first round pick’s retirement after Yonder Alonso retired this past November.
The torch is being carried on by a few ProCanes at the MLB level. Fittingly, the Miami program, that has a deep catcher lineage, is being represented by two catchers on the Chicago White Sox who are off to a decent start. Yasmani Grandal belted his 150th career home run earlier this season as he continues to be one of the most respected catchers in the American League despite a slow start.
In the backup slot, Zack Collins has played in six games and drove in five runs to date. Collins also was a part of history last night as he was the catcher calling Carlos Rodon’s no-hitter against Cleveland. While it is an amazing story for Rodon and the lights deservedly shine bright on him for this feat, Collins has had a plethora of doubters and critics, including MLB scouts, who didn’t believe he would be able to occupy the catcher spot at the major league level. Collins had caught just 15 games in his career before the no-no, which is tied for the 5th fewest career games caught before catching a no hitter and the fewest since 1969. This should certainly help the former 10th overall pick’s confidence behind the dish as he continues to develop.
Detroit Tigers reliever, Bryan Garcia, has appeared in five games, but recently recorded his first save of the season as he appears to be squarely in the mix as a potential closer.
Miami Alum Zack Collins calls/catches no-hitter for the Chicago White Sox tonight. Game was 1 slider that got away from Rodon from being a perfect game. Incredible moment either way. Congrats Carlos (and Zack!) #ProCanes— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 15, 2021
Before tonight, Zack Collins had caught just 15 games in his career— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) April 15, 2021
That's tied for the 5th-fewest career games caught before catching a no-hitter in the Modern Era (since 1900)
Fewest since: 1969 Don Bryant, 15 games caught before Don Wilson's no-hitter
A drenched Zack Collins says he’s never caught a no-hitter before.— James Fegan (@JRFegan) April 15, 2021
"That’s the most incredible moment I’ve ever been a part of behind the plate" pic.twitter.com/7HEfpe9vP4
After 12 years in the league, outfielder, Jon Jay, was recently called up to the active Los Angeles Angels roster. Down on the farm, catcher, Chris Herrmann, occupies a roster spot in the Boston Red Sox system, and 2020 draft picks, Slade Cecconi, Chris McMahon, and Freddy Zamora work their way up their respective teams.