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Miami Hurricanes Baseball 2022 Season Preview: The Infield

Miami’s infield is led by star 3B Yohandy Morales

Credit: Miami Athletics

Miami will have some significant changes in the infield in 2022 after several players departed the program during the offseason. Despite that, Miami should still have a solid infield this season. The Hurricanes are led on the infield by Yohandy Morales, who could be one of the best players in the ACC in 2022.

In addition, Dominic Pitelli returns this season. Pitelli’s defense is incredible, and his offense should improve in his second season with regular playing time. Miami’s strong recruiting class will help add talent and depth across the rest of the infield, and Vanderbilt transfer Maxwell Romero, Jr. will likely start at catcher and help replace the production of Adrian Del Castillo.

3B Yohandy Morales

2021 Stats: .284/.343/.531, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 13 2B, 3 3B

2021 Freshman All-American, 2021 All-ACC Freshman Team

Yohandy Morales was one of the best freshmen in the ACC last season. Morales led Miami in home runs, doubles, triples, and RBI and was fourth on the team in batting average as he compiled a .874 OPS in his first collegiate season. Miami’s coaching staff and Morales are both confident the sophomore has improved ahead of 2022, with an approach that is seeing Morales take more pitches. The new approach should help Morales improve on his .343 OBP, but could also let him see pitches that are better to hit.

Morales could be one of the best players in the ACC and the country during his sophomore season. He will be a key middle-of-the-order bat for the Hurricanes this season, and will hope to replicate, and improve upon, an extremely successful freshman year.

SS Dominic Pitelli

2021 Stats: .219/.289/.320, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 5 2B, 0 3B

In his freshman year, Pitelli emerged as a shortstop capable of making incredible defensive plays, and he will look to continue that in 2022. His offense has continued to develop over the offseason and fall camp, and he’s worked on simplifying his load and quieting his hands at the plate. According to hitting coach Norberto Lopez the results have been good for Pitelli during practices in the fall and spring, and Pitelli could add a solid offensive game to his already valuable defense in 2022.

Pitelli will likely spend this season as the starting shortstop, and if his offense is improved as compared to last season he could be a key piece for Miami all year long. He provides key experience on the left side of the infield along with Yohandy Morales.

C Maxwell Romero, Jr.

2021 Stats (Vanderbilt): .300/.426/.620, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 4 2B, 0 3B

Maxwell Romero, Jr. transfers to Miami after two seasons at Vanderbilt, where he had a solid season last year in which he played in 21 games. Romero will have to replace Adrian Del Castillo behind the plate, which is no easy task, but his offensive skillset and strong ability to work with the pitching staff will be key for Miami all season. In addition, Romero has extensive postseason experience, as he travelled to the College World Series with Vanderbilt last season and hit a solo homerun in Omaha against Mississippi State.

Romero should provide valuable experience and leadership for the pitching staff and the whole team this season. Last year, the junior had an opportunity to gain experience working with a pitching staff with elite talent in Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker, and that experience should help Romero and the 2022 Miami pitching staff have success.

1B CJ Kayfus

2021 Stats: .298/.375/.509, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 3 2B, 0 3B

CJ Kayfus should step into a new role as the starting first baseman for the 2022 Hurricanes after a freshman season in 2021 in which he played 40 games, starting 10. Kayfus was very good when he played last season, averaging a home run every 19 at-bats (team-leader Yohandy Morales averaged a home run every 19.1 at-bats), and finishing the season strong, as he was named to the All-Gainesville Regional team at the NCAA Tournament.

Kayfus has added a leg-kick to his swing to add more power to his game, and should be a solid offensive player for the Hurricanes at first base. If Kayfus matches his offensive production from his freshman year across more at-bats in 2022, he could be a breakout offensive player for the Hurricanes.

Henry Wallen

2021 Stats: N/A (Freshman)

Henry Wallen transferred to Miami after two seasons at Miami-Dade College. Wallen was Miami-Dade’s Rookie of the Year in 2020 before batting .289 during the 2021 season. He could play a key role for Miami’s infield this year and started the alumni game at third base; with Yohandy Morales as the DH. It will be interesting to see how Gino DiMare organizes the lineup over the first few weekends of the season, but Wallen could see plenty of at-bats in his first year as a Hurricane.

C Carlos Perez

2021 Stats: .222/.340/.422, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4 2B, 1 3B

Carlos Perez had an important role for Miami in 2021, often starting mid-week games at catcher to give Adrian Del Castillo a day off. Perez will likely have a similar role this season, and if he continues to improve on offense, he could serve as a key hitter off of the bench for Gino DiMare. In the future, Perez has the talent to be Miami’s starting catcher.

Dorian Gonzalez Jr

2021 Stats: N/A (Freshman)

Dorian Gonzalez begins his Miami career with a chance to have an instant impact. Like Henry Wallen, Gonzalez started the alumni game last Saturday. He has been competing for the starting job at second base before the start of the year. Gonzalez was an excellent high school player, batting .364 as a senior and earning All-District honors. He could be a key infielder for the Hurricanes this season and compete to make the All-ACC Freshman team.

Ariel Garcia

2021 Stats: N/A (Freshman)

Ariel Garcia is another talented high school hitter that is beginning his career at Miami. Garcia batted .327 in his senior season at Christopher Columbus High School and had a slugging percentage of .704 in his last season as an Explorer. Garcia has a lot of potential, especially on offense, where he could add even more power to his game. As with any freshman, it could take some time to adjust to the college level, but Garcia should have an impact for Miami in the future.

C Drew Yuskevich

2021 Stats: N/A

Drew Yuskevich begins his Miami career as a sophomore after transferring to Miami from Elon. In high school, Yuskevich played at La Salle College High School in Pennsylvania, where he had an .873 OPS in his senior season. He’ll likely serve as one of the backup catchers this season and be an option off of the bench for Gino DiMare.

C JD Jones

2021 Stats: N/A (Freshman)

Another member of Miami’s talented recruiting class, JD Jones had an extremely successful high school career in Colorado. During his senior season Jones had an OPS of 1.283 and hit five home runs in just 66 at-bats across 22 games. Jones has good offensive skills and combines them with solid defense and plenty of potential to improve in both areas. He’s another freshman that should make an impact for Miami over the next several years.

Miami’s infield will be very young in 2022, with Maxwell Romero, Jr. likely being the only junior or senior to start as an infielder. Despite that, the Hurricanes infield should still be productive, especially with Yohandy Morales’ emergence as potentially one of the best infielders in the ACC.