University of Miami

With MLB draft looming, thoughts of future and present collide at UM

Zack Collins, the No. 16 prospect on Baseball America’s draft board, is expected to hear his name on Day One of the MLB draft, with some analysts projecting him to be a top-10 pick.
Zack Collins, the No. 16 prospect on Baseball America’s draft board, is expected to hear his name on Day One of the MLB draft, with some analysts projecting him to be a top-10 pick. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Throughout his first two years on the University of Miami baseball team, sophomore pitcher Michael Mediavilla has come to appreciate different facets of his teammates’ game.

Zack Collins’ selflessness. Bryan Garcia’s determination. Willie Abreu’s leadership.

Those aspects of their skill sets, Mediavilla said, are essential when it comes to playing at the next level.

They’re also helping those three players — and more than half of the Hurricanes’ roster — prepare for a conflicting next few days.

In addition to preparing for this weekend’s Super Regional and a potential return to the College World Series, up to 16 of UM’s 29 players will find out more about their professional baseball careers when the three-day Major League Baseball draft begins Thursday.

“Every one one of them wants to play pro ball,” UM coach Jim Morris said. “Every one of them wants to play in the big leagues. So it’s a huge thing for them.”

Despite his teammates grappling with the uncertainty of the future while staying grounded in the present, Mediavilla, who is a year away from draft eligibility, said players are handling themselves well in the clubhouse as both the draft and a Super Regional series with Atlantic Coast Conference rival Boston College approach.

“They’ve stayed within themselves, let the game come to them and have kept the same mind-set they’ve had all their lives, which is, ‘This is what we play the game for,’ ” Mediavilla said.

The 40-round draft begins at 7 p.m. Thursday with the first two rounds. Two competitive balance lottery rounds will also take place Thursday for 77 total selections on opening day.

Collins, a Johnny Bench Award finalist, Golden Spikes Award semifinalist and the No. 16 prospect on Baseball America’s draft board, is expected to hear his name on Day One, with some analysts projecting him to be a top-10 pick.

The junior, however, is still apprehensive about what the next few days have in store.

“I’d be lying to you if I said it doesn’t really matter and that I’m just focused on Super Regionals,” Collins said. “It’s my future.”

The third through 10th rounds take place starting at 1 p.m. Friday, a mere four hours before No. 3 national seed Miami and Boston College open a best-of-three series to determine which team advances to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

“The scary part is Friday afternoon when that draft starts,” UM pitching coach J.D. Arteaga said. “That’s when the majority of our players will have their names called. … If they go later than they hoped to or expected to, that’s when you can run into problems.”

The final 30 rounds take place Saturday beginning at noon, the same time the Hurricanes and Eagles are slated to start Game 2 of their series.

Players eligible for the draft include those who have at least completed or are completing their junior year at a four-year university (such as the University of Miami), athletes who have graduated high school but not yet enrolled in college, and junior college players.

In addition to Collins, Baseball America ranked five UM players in the top 500, which correlates with being drafted in the top 20 rounds: closer Garcia (No. 161), outfielder Abreu (No. 207), outfielder Jacob Heyward (No. 291), shortstop Brandon Lopez (No. 432) and starting pitcher Danny Garcia (No. 465).

Other notable Miami players who are eligible for the draft include senior Thomas Woodrey, redshirt juniors Edgar Michelangeli and Chris Barr, and juniors Randy Batista and Johnny Ruiz.

“We sit and talk to these guys and tell them they’ve had all season to put themselves in the best place possible,” Arteaga said.

“It’s out of their hands now.”

Six of the Hurricanes’ Class of 2016 signees also landed on Baseball America’s draft list, with left-handed pitcher Jesus Luzardo (Douglas High School, No. 50) and shortstop Luis Curbelo (Cocoa High, No. 99) cracking the top 100.

Miami Herald sportswriter Susan Miller Degnan contributed to this report.

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