Colleges notebook

South Florida brimming with MLB-ready talent


Special to the Miami Herald

When it comes to the local college baseball teams, left-hander Carlos Rodon could be considered “the one who got away”, and the former Miami resident is on track to possibly be the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s MLB draft.

Rodon, whose Cuban-American family moved from Miami to North Carolina when he was 11, is projected to be the top pick by ESPN, which has him going to the Houston Astros.

Baseball America has Rodon rated as the nation’s third-best prospect, which means he could be an option for the Marlins with the second overall pick. Rodon could potentially join another Cuban-American, Jose Fernandez, in a future Miami rotation.

Rodon went just 6-7 this past season for an underperforming North Carolina State team that failed to make the NCAA tournament. But Rodon pitched well with a 2.01 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 99 innings.

As a sophomore, he went 10-3 with a 2.99 ERA, setting the school record with 184 strikeouts. And, as a freshman, he went 9-0 with a 1.57 ERA, earning ACC Pitcher of the Year honors.

Whoever picks Rodon — who is represented by hard-driving agent Scott Boras — will likely pay a heavy signing bonus.

Besides Rodon, the other sure-fire first-round pick with South Florida ties is right-hander Touki Toussaint of Coral Springs Christian. Baseball America ranks him 13th in the draft.

Two Miami Hurricanes and one FIU Panther are among Baseball America’s top 200 prospects: FIU catcher Aramis Garcia (No. 70) and Miami pitchers Andrew Suarez (73) and Chris Diaz (125).

Three other players with local ties made the list: Plantation American Heritage shortstop Milton Ramos (No. 40), former Fort Lauderdale Cavalry Christian Academy and current Florida Gators catcher Taylor Gushue (108); and Miami American High outfielder Ronnie Williams (175).

Miami Dade College

The baseball team is one of two left standing in the Junior College World Series, which ends this weekend at Grand Junction, Colo. The tournament started with 10 teams in its double-elimination format, and 10th-ranked MDC (38-16) will have to win two more games to earn its first national title since 1981.

No. 3 Iowa Western of Council Bluffs, Iowa (55-11) just has to win once to earn its second national title since 2010. MDC is making its first World Series appearance since 2001 while Iowa Western is making its eighth appearance in the past 10 years.

One of the breakout stars of this tournament has been MDC sophomore outfielder Nick Bateman, who has hit three homers in four games, including two inside-the-park jobs. He had just one homer in 36 games before the World Series.

However, Iowa Western looks to be nearly unbeatable, going 4-0 this tournament, winning by scores of 6-5, 9-0, 10-0 and 11-1. The 10-0 score came against MDC in a game that was stopped after five innings due to the mercy rule.

This and that

• Ex-Canes linebacker and fullback James Bryant, 28, who is now playing Arena League Football for the Pittsburgh Power, wears a Hannibal Lecter mask on the field before games. He said he hopes it intimidates opponents.

• Nova Southeastern junior Ryan Jerothe set a school record in pole vault (5.10 meters), finishing eighth in the nation in NCAA Division II. On NSU’s women’s track team, Laruschka Joubert finished 16th in the javelin and was third in the nation among freshmen.

•  The NSU men’s golf team, which finished second in the nation to Sunshine State Conference rival Barry, graduates two of its five starters — Mitch Farrer of England and Ricardo Celia of Colombia. Returning will be rising junior Hunter O’Mahony of Jupiter, senior Oscar Lengden of Sweden and rising junior Santiago Gomez of Colombia.

• Barry outfielder Sheehan Planas-Arteaga made the All-South first team in baseball. Nova Southeastern shortstop Alvin Swoope and pitcher/infielder Alex Fernandez made the second team.

Read more Colleges stories from the Miami Herald

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