The Miami Hurricanes baseball team is set on getting back to the NCAA tournament after its 44-year record streak was snapped this past season.
To help them do it will be an opening-weekend rotation against Rutgers that is believed to be one of the 2018 team’s strengths.
Hurricanes coach Jim Morris, about to begin his 25th and final season, told the Miami Herald on Tuesday morning that the opening rotation will start Friday with left-handed senior ace Jeb Bargfeldt (7-3, 2.28 ERA in 2017), followed on Saturday by right-handed sophomore Greg Veliz (6-4, 3.38) and right-handed sophomore Evan McKendry (4-2, 4.10) likely on Sunday.
Senior left-hander Michael Mediavilla, 6-5 and 225 pounds, is back and will start the season pitching mid-week games, with right-handed freshman Daniel Federman also an option.
When the Canes (31-27 last season) take the field at 7 p.m. Friday against Rutgers, Morris said the infielders are expected to be all freshmen, with Alex Toral at first base, Willy Escala at second, Freddy Zamora at shortstop and Raymond Gil at third.
Sophomore Michael Amditis, returning after breaking his ankle and tearing ligaments early last season, will be behind the plate.
At right field will be junior Romy Gonzalez, who hit .265 with a team-leading 11 home runs and played second base in 2017. Danny Reyes, the Florida transfer who played at Broward College last season, will likely start in left field, with Michael Burns in center.
Morris said Reyes, who went to high school at Mater Academy and grew up in Miami Springs, is the team’s “best pure hitter” and can hit for power and average.
This year’s closer is right-handed Coral Gables High graduate Andrew Cabezas, a junior who was 5-3 with a 2.15 ERA last season.
“He’s very competitive, has good stuff and throws every pitch for a strike,” Morris said. “He’s our best pitcher, and over the years, our best pitcher a lot of times has been the closer.”
Freshman Christopher McMahon, who likely would have been in the starting rotation after being drafted in the 33rd round by the Braves and “turning down seven figures,’’ Morris said, had knee surgery and will return by early April.
The set-up pitchers for now are right-handers Frankie Bartow and Cooper Hammond.