Miami Hurricanes Baseball 2023 Preview

Miami Hurricanes Baseball 2023

Miami, Florida – Welcome to another action-packed season of Miami Hurricanes baseball for 2023! Soon the college teams will begin their journey to Omaha. With a fresh start in the newest season, fans all over have the hope of seeing their team succeed on the diamond. For the boys at Coral Gables (and coach Gino DiMare), it’s about some unfinished business. After a very painful exit from their own home regional, the Canes are looking to raise the bar with their top-ranked 2020 recruiting class commencing junior year. The core has generally remained the same, however, they will be without Jacob “Bayou” Burke, Carson Palmquist, and Maxwell Romero Jr.  With an additional season of experience, the Hurricanes are ready to make some serious noise.

Returning Players: Offense

Starting with a very talented infield, the Hurricanes have their corners manned by Yohandy Morales and C.J. Kayfus. Both were named D1 Baseball Preseason All-Americans (and Andrew Walters of course) making Miami one of two ACC programs with three All-Americans. Yoyo slashed .329/.411/.650 in 2022 including 17 doubles, 18 home runs, and 59 RBIs leading the team in all those aforementioned stats with the exception of having the third-best batting average. Morales is projected to be selected in the first round of this year’s MLB draft.

Kayfus provided lots of offense at the top of the lineup, leading the Canes with a .366 batting average complemented by a .460 OBP and a .525 slugging percentage. Accumulating 12 doubles, eight dingers, and 51 RBIs, the first baseman was a menace on the base paths collecting a team-best 16 stolen bases. He was also a hard out leading the team with 38 walks.

Moving along there’s also Dominic Pitelli and Dorian Gonzalez Jr, Although Pitelli’s slash line was .249/.335/.403 while also being tied for most errors on the team (12), the shortstop improved his numbers across the board during his sophomore year. Now a junior, this might be Dominic’s breakout season, or so UM hopes. His teammate, Gonzalez Jr, put up decent numbers his freshman year. With a .263/.354/.346 stat line the expectations have only gone higher. His one drawback is his roughly 21% strikeout rate. Whiffing 33 times in 156 at-bats, he’ll need to up the plate discipline. Dorian is far from the only one.

Appearing in 51 games, Zach Levenson played as both a designated hitter and at right field. Mashing seven homers and 28 RBIs, the junior’s .300/.420/.531 line wasn’t bad either.

Returning Players: Pitching

Andrew Walters returns to the squad looking to finish what he started. Consistently dominant throughout the 2022 season, he was unable to seal the deal against Arizona in the regional. As their lights-out closer, Walters led the ACC with 14 saves (fifth nationally) recording a sharp 1.65 ERA and 0.59 WHIP in over 32 innings of work. He punched out 62 hitters walking only six. Opposing batters only managed a .116 batting average. While the offense has certainly earned praise, the starting rotation is what I’ll be keeping an eye on. Without Palmquist, it now falls to guys like Karson Ligon. The right-handed sophomore went 6-6 in 14 starts (15 appearances) posting a 4.50 ERA coupled with a 1.45 WHIP. With 67 strikeouts and 31 walks, opponents were hitting .264 meaning the sophomore out of Sarasota needs to step up.

Alejandro Rosario is another individual who needs to improve his game. He struggled in 2022 putting up a 7.05 ERA and 1.80 WHIP, going 2-3 in 12 starts (and 15 appearances). Gage Ziehl (2-2, 4.04 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)  joins the starting rotation out of the bullpen. Making 30 appearances last season, we’re about to see if Ziehl can make a smooth transition to becoming g a crucial piece of the postseason puzzle.

Shifting to the bullpen, the team certainly has depth. Ronaldo Gallo’s debut as a Hurricane came in the form of a 3.63 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 25 relief appearances. Gallo punched out 40 keeping the opposition to a .215 batting average. Rafe Schlesinger, meanwhile,  recorded a 3.38 ERA, and a 1.86 WHIP in 19 appearances.

New Faces

Among the newbies, there are several transfers that caught my notice. A sophomore from Eastern Florida State, Brian Walters is the younger brother of Andrew Walters. The righty made 14 appearances including 11 starts pitching nearly 50 innings going 3-3 with a 3.99 ERA in that span. For his collegiate debut versus Santa Fe College, he fanned nine batters not throughout the game but in four innings of work.

Ian Farrow was phenomenal for Florida Gulf Coast last season. For 2022, Farrow started in all 58 games in left field hitting .322 with 73 runs scored, recording nine doubles, and setting a new FGCU record of 21 homers and 75 RBIs. His OPS was 1.034 complemented by a .624 slugging percentage. If he can produce for Miami in a similar fashion he’ll be considered a huge add.

The Canes also managed to get two fellas from across town: Carlos Lequerica and Alejandro Torres. Lequerica finished the season 2-5 with a 5.16 ERA on 16 appearances including 11 starts for FIU. Torres was a reliever for the Panthers going 3-0 with a 7.13 ERA working 24 frames.

Pre-Season Rankings

D1 Baseball – #22

Baseball America – #8

Perfect Game – #9

Collegiate Baseball – #8

USA Today – #18

NCBWA – #17

Schedule and Prediction

The slate is full of juicy matchups. Same as in previous years, the Florida Gators serve as an early test on the road no less. Miami will then spend two weekends in a row at home starting conference play versus good opponents in NC State and Virginia Tech. The schedule gets even harder against a scary Wake Forest team at their house.

April might make or break the Canes with road games at Virginia, North Carolina, and Louisville. If they can at least achieve .500 baseball in that span, sneaking in a couple of series wins (or even a sweep) UM enters an 11-game stretch involving teams they are expected to beat such as Presbyterian, Pittsburgh, and Duke. On another note, The U will face their crosstown rivals four times this year. The last time this happened was back in 2017 when FIU took three out of four. I’m looking forward to this.

The Hurricanes have a potent lineup. With that potentially powerful offense, the 2023 season’s ceiling is high, matching the fan’s expectations. The question mark will be on the pitching, specifically the starting rotation. If the boys can be consistent on all sides of the ball, this is at minimum a regional team. I’m expecting Miami to win most of its midweek games to pad its record.  With that said, it’s baseball so anything can happen. Be prepared for some hiccups, especially from week three onwards. I managed to correctly predict the program’s record last year so let’s see how I do this time around. The campaign will end with a 39-16 record and the Hurricanes will once again become regional hosts finally advancing to the super-regional. From there I believe it’s as far as they’ll get.

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