#32 Miami Baseball Preview

Miami Hurricanes

Overall Rank: #32
Conference Rank: #6 ACC

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The 2012 season for the Miami Hurricanes baseball program came to an abrupt end in the Coral Gables Regional thanks to being shocked by Stony Brook who eventually made it all the way to the College World Series. A top flight recruiting class and another talented group returns for veteran head coach Jim Morris. Thus, a highly motivated squad should be taking the diamond in 2013 looking to atone for the two and done elimination last June.

2012: 36-23, 16-14 ACC
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jim Morris

Field Players:
The ability to generate more runs in 2013 is absolutely critical for Miami. Peter O’Brien’s production with a .340 batting average and ten homeruns will be a challenge to replace. The most experienced returner is infielder Brad Fieger.  Fieger hit .295, drove in 39 runs in 2012.  And if he can get on base a little bit more consistently, it will help set the table for the rest of the lineup to be more productive.  Chantz Mack is also another key on the base paths as he stole 18 bases in 2012 and drove in 33 runs.  Michael Broad is another top returning home run threat who hit four homeruns, drove in 30 and will be counted on heavily as well to ignite the Hurricane offense.

Pitching was not really the problem in 2012 for the Hurricanes as they had a team earned run average in the low three’s. The core of the staff will be Eric Whaley in the starting rotation as he pitched 90.2 innings and started 14 games and should be the most likely Friday or Saturday starter. A.J. Salcines is a preseason All-American candidate out of the pen and should be able to help Miami in hotly contested ACC games where one run is usually the difference. Salcines had seven saves and held opponents to a paltry .193 batting average last season. This experienced combination should help the Hurricanes stay competitive in weekend series throughout the season.

Who to Watch:
The keys to this incoming freshman class in regard to making an immediate impact will start in the field with Grant Heyman, who was an 11th round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays. Heyman is a 6-4 very athletic outfielder who should be able to help provide some much need power to the lineup for Miami.  David Thompson will provide versatility as he can play both first base and outfield and was a 38th round draft pick of the New York Yankees. On the mound, Jace Herrera, a 36th round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox, will be expected to compete to either get in the starting rotation on either weekends or claim one of the midweek spots for the Hurricanes.

Final Projection:
The inability to consistently score runs was the key to the demise of Miami in 2012. The ability to find that difference maker in the lineup and replace Peter O’Brien is very vital to the overall success of the Hurricanes in 2013. Also, if Miami can develop a little more depth on the mound and in the pen, they should be able to better overcome an early Regional loss in 2013 versus what happened after Stony Brook when they lost to Missouri State.  For the Hurricanes to win the ACC, they are going to have to be road warriors as they will go on the road to North Carolina, Virginia and an out of conference weekend series with in-state rival Florida early in their season. In the end this team should steadily claw its way to another 35 to 40 wins and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Brad Fieger, IF, 224
Hits: Brad Fieger, IF, 66
Home Runs: Brad Fieger, IF, 4; Michael Broad, IF, 4
RBIs: Brad Fieger, IF, 39
Runs: Dale Carey, OF, 42
Stolen Bases: Chantz Mack, OF, 10; Tyler Palmer, INF, 10

Wins: Eric Whaley, P, 4
Innings Pitched: Eric Whaley, P, 90.2
Strikeouts: Eric Whaley, P, 63
Saves: AJ Salcines, P, 7

Madness 2013 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#58 David Thompson
#73 Eric Neitzel


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