University of Miami

Midseason look at UM, FIU baseball

It’s just past the halfway point of the regular season for Miami’s two Division I baseball teams, and here’s a quick look at how they have done and what to expect the rest of the way:

UM

The Hurricanes (18-12, 8-4) started the season in Baseball America’s Top 25 but fell out, due in large part to several losses to unranked teams such as Bethune-Cookman, Maine, Florida Atlantic, Stetson and UCF.

Miami has played fairly well against ranked teams, taking one out of three at No. 1 Florida State, one of three against No. 3 Virginia and two of three against No. 13 Florida.

In addition, North Carolina State was No. 25 last weekend when the Canes swept three games on their home field.

• 

MVP:
Chris Diaz

, who was 5-0 with a 2.27 ERA entering Friday night, has been outstanding not only against a tough schedule but also against the aces of those teams, including

Carlos Rodon

of North Carolina State who is regarded as the probable No. 1 pick in this year’s MLB draft.



• 

Top freshman hitter:

With

David Thompson

injured and out for the year, right fielder

Willie Abreu

has emerged as the team’s top hitter (.337). He has a big arm in right field and has shown impressive patience at the plate for a rookie, drawing a team-high 18 walks. He is big and strong, so expect the power to come soon.



• 

Top freshman pitcher:

With a fastball consistently clocked at 94 mph,

Bryan Garcia

flashed his ability right away. He entered Friday 2-2 with a 1.89 ERA and seven saves.



• 

Most improved:

Senior center fielder

Dale Carey

batted just .192 with one homer last season. He entered this season with a combined total of just four homers in three years. But this year, he is batting .282 with five homers. He leads the team with 10 doubles and a .513 slugging percentage.



• 

Most underrated:

Freshman DH

Zach Collins

is hitting .227, so he might be easy for some to overlook. But he has overcome a brutal start and now leads the team in homers (six) and RBI (22). A wild card in this category is first baseman

Brad Zunica

. He has been given just four starts, but scouts love his size (6-6, 255 pounds), strength and lefty swing.



• 

More is expected (second half):

Junior No. 3 starter

Bryan Radziewski

should be better than his current numbers: 1-2 with a 4.28 ERA. He entered this season with a 20-5 career record and a 2.63 ERA.



FIU

The Panthers (23-7, 7-6 Conference USA) have a stellar record, especially outside of league play.

A knock on the Panthers would be that their schedule is light. The only Top 25 team they have faced was No. 12 Rice, which swept host FIU in three games.

• 

MVP:

Catcher

Aramis Garcia

is hitting .393 with a team-high five homers and a team-best 1.110 OPS.



• 

Top freshman hitter:

Right fielder

Brandon Gomez

of Monsignor Pace leads the team with a .397 batting average and has used the entire field to spray line drives. FIU coach

Turtle Thomas

said Gomez needs to avoid trying to pull too many pitches.



• 

Top freshman pitcher:

Southwest High’s

Chris Mourelle

was supposed to be a middle reliever this season, but he has already made five starts and is 5-0 with a 0.73 ERA. A finesse pitcher with a four-pitch mix, Mourelle has overshadowed another top freshman,

Cody Crouse

, who has more of a power arm. Crouse has made four starts and is 2-1 with a 1.56 ERA.



• 

Most improved:

Junior

Mike Franco

(4-1, 1.00 ERA entering Friday) has gone from Sunday starter to Friday starter, an important move up.



• 

Most underrated:

Second baseman

Edwin Rios

is hitting .323 with a team-high 27 RBI. But his defense is overlooked. FIU struggled to turn double plays last season, but, with Rios’ strong and accurate arm, that is no longer a problem. Center fielder

Tyler Hibbert

is also underrated because of his pedestrian .287 batting average. But he leads the team in walks (23) and steals (12) while compiling a .418 on-base percentage.



• 

More is expected (second half):

Junior

Michael Ellis

, who missed most of last season and all of this past fall because of back surgery, is no longer in the rotation. But Thomas expects Ellis (5-2, 2.32) will be valuable in the second half out of the bullpen.



Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments