With the Heat and Panthers in the playoffs, the Marlins’ season ongoing and the NFL Draft less than a week away, coverage of the top-ranked University of Miami baseball team might get a bit lost in the avalanche of sports.
So, to give the Hurricanes their due, here are a couple of notes on the team you might not have known:
▪ Catcher Zack Collins, a junior and a possible late first-round draft pick this June, is a huge fan of remote-control planes, cars and trucks. He also took apart and rebuilt a high-performance jet ski with the help of his father.
“Zack is a 10-year-old kid stuck in a 21-year-old’s body,” Hurricanes right fielder Willie Abreu said.
▪ Abreu, Collins and UM’s Saturday pitcher, Mike Mediavilla, have known each other since age 6 when they started playing for the West Pines Cobras. They have played together on travel teams or with the Canes ever since.
▪ Collins’ father, Patrick, said teams wanted to draft his son late in the first round in 2013, when he was a senior at Plantation American Heritage. But the offer, which was less than $1 million, wasn’t enough.
“We had a number, and they offered $100,000 less,” Patrick Collins said. “I bet those teams are kicking themselves in the butt for not signing him out of high school. His [signing bonus] has probably tripled or quadrupled since then.”
▪ If Collins does go pro after his junior year, UM’s starting catcher next season could be a freshman, Mike Amditis of Boca Raton Community High. Amditis, a good defender with power potential, is sitting out this spring after tearing the labrum in his throwing shoulder.
▪ Another Canes recruit for 2017, left-hander Jesus Luzardo of Parkland Stoneman Douglas High, recently had Tommy John surgery. The surgery could improve Miami’s chances of getting him on campus as opposed to the top prospect turning pro.
▪ Canes closer Bryan Garcia started this weekend with 35 career saves and needs five more to break George Huguet’s school record. Garcia needs two more saves to tie Rick Raether for second place.
Despite his success, Garcia is one of the most humble players on the team. In fact, last fall, the junior asked freshman Andrew Cabezas if he could teach him his slider, which shows that Garcia is always willing to learn.
Because Garcia throws four pitches, he could be switched to a starter once he signs a pro contract. Garcia’s repertoire includes a 92-to-94-mph fastball.
▪ Cabezas, in terms of personality, is the opposite of Garcia in that he’s not shy about expressing his confidence. Asked recently about Garcia’s slider, Cabezas said: “His slider is nasty — not as good as mine — but really good.”
▪ Injured setup reliever Cooper Hammond could return in one week.
The Panthers (17-21, 5-10 Conference USA) have seven players who have started double-figure games who are hitting above .300, led by Eddie Silva (.357).
Silva is a sophomore second baseman and leadoff man out of Southwest Ranches Archbishop McCarthy.
Junior designated hitter Brandon Gomez, a former FIU standout who is hitting .335, leads the Sunshine State Conference with 56 RBI and ranks second with 15 homers.
Senior right-hander Alex Mateo (5-3, 2.85 ERA in 11 starts) leads the league in ERA. Mateo played his high school ball at Monsignor Pace and transferred to NSU last year from Point Park University in Pittsburgh.
NSU (28-13, 11-4) is ranked 13th in Division II and is ranked second in the conference behind defending national champion and top-rated Tampa.