Junior left-hander Andrew Suarez is the Miami Hurricanes’ No. 3 starter, but he is the No. 1 collegiate prospect in South Florida.
Baseball America ranks Suarez No. 23 among all college prospects, even though his statistics last season were not overly impressive. He went 3-6 with a 3.95 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings.
Out of Columbus High, Suarez was the Toronto Blue Jays’ ninth-round pick in 2011. But shoulder surgery caused him to miss most of his freshman season in 2012, and he was throwing his fastball as low as 85 mph last season as a sophomore.
This fall, he was back up to an average of 93 mph, and Canes pitching coach J.D. Arteaga said he has never seen a player take such giant strides forward in one offseason.
The Canes, in the nation as a team, are led by an outstanding rotation that includes Suarez and two other junior left-handers, Bryan Radziewski (9-3, 1.78 ERA) and Chris Diaz (7-5, 1.64 ERA).
Batters hit just .175 off Radziewski last year.
But despite their sterling stats, Diaz and Radziewski are not considered to be in Suarez’s class as pro prospects.
Meanwhile, two Hurricanes recruits for 2015 are ranked among the top 100 prep prospects in the nation — outfielders Justin Smith at No. 43 and Carl Chester (No. 69).
FIU has one player on the list — right-hander Erik Manoah of South Dade High at No. 91.
Florida State has five prospects in the top 100, which is tied for first among all universities.
However, there are no guarantees any of those recruits will ever make it to college. Over the past two years an average of 65 of the top 100 skipped college to play pro baseball.
MIAMI DADE COLLEGE
Former MDC outfielder Brian Goodwin has cracked ESPN’s Top 100 Prospects list, coming in at No. 83. Drafted in 2012, the Washington Nationals prospect spent last season at Double A.
Goodwin, 23, is a lefty hitter, and ESPN’s Keith Law said he has “plus-plus speed” with a strong arm and is “a lock to stay in center field” because of his defensive skills. Law believes Goodwin could get to the big leagues within two years and produce .270 to .280 batting averages, with 70 to 80 walks per season and a slew of extra-base hits.
No other local college player made ESPN’s Top 100 list.
The Canes (11-10, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) have lost three in a row, but Thursday’s close 76-75 loss to No. 3 Duke was a hopeful sign for UM.
After all, the Canes lost by 27 points last week at No. 2 Notre Dame. On Sunday, Miami plays at No. 6 North Carolina.
Still ahead are a Feb. 13 home game vs. No. 8 Maryland and a Feb.16 game at No. 23 Florida State.