Canes hope to parlay talented recruiting class, loaded starting rotation into first Omaha trip since 2008
The Miami Hurricanes open the baseball season this Friday -- Valentine's Day night -- against the visiting Maine Black Bears, a team which won the American East Conference and finished 37-22 last season.
Every year Jim Morris says he's excited about his team and its chances to get back to Omaha for the College World Series. But this year it looks like the Hurricanes actually have the talent to deliver on those hopes.
UM landed its best recruiting class in years and has one of the nation's top starting rotations with junior left-handers Chris Diaz (7-5, 1.64), Bryan Radziewski (9-3, 1.78), Andrew Suarez (3-6, 3.95) and senior right-hander Javi Salas (5-5, 3.18) all returning.
The issue -- as it usually is lately with UM -- will be offense. The Hurricanes finished 11th out of 12 ACC teams in batting average (.257) and runs scored (278) last year. But that's where the freshmen are supposed to come in and help.
First baseman Zack Collins (27th round draft choice in 2013) and right fielder Willie Abreu (14th round), two left-handed bats, are expected to help sophomore third baseman David Thompson (.286, 6 HRs, 48 RBI) provide more oomph in the lineup.
Collins (Plantation American Heritage) and Abreu (Hialeah Mater Academy) grew up huge Hurricanes fans and close friends since the age of six.
Abreu said he used to sit along the third baseline at Mark Light Field and taunt opposing hitters and pitchers and called one of his coolest moments getting a foul ball he caught signed with by the late Ron Fraser. Collins said his thrill was getting on the field as a kid alongside Gaby Sanchez and watching former Canes catcher Yasmani Grandal launch a home run into the third deck of the parking garage.
Collins, by the way, says he's already put a few balls into the same spot Grandal did during practice. One UM coach said Collins has the kind of power Yonder Alonso did.
For more on the Canes baseball team check out the collection of video interviews from today's media day session. I've posted a couple of the best ones here.