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Canes Ranked No. 6 in Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll

by David Villavicencio

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Miami Hurricanes had their eyes set on Omaha before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the 2020 season, but Collegiate Baseball expects the Canes to contend for a spot in the College World Series again this coming season.

The Hurricanes are No. 6 in Collegiate Baseball’s Fabulous 50 NCAA Division I Pre-Season Poll, as announced Monday. The Canes earned a top-10 preseason ranking for the second consecutive year, as Miami opened the 2020 season at No. 4 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll. The complete Collegiate Baseball Fabulous 50 NCAA Division I Pre-Season Poll can be viewed HERE.

Miami is the top-ranked team from the ACC in the annual Collegiate Baseball preseason poll. The Canes are joined by No. 11 Louisville, No. 13 NC State, No. 14 Virginia, No. 25 Clemson, No. 28 Florida State, No. 34 Georgia Tech, No. 36 Duke and No. 47 Notre Dame to give the ACC nine teams in the initial top 50.

A year ago, under the direction of head coach Gino DiMare, the Canes went 12-4 (3-0 ACC) in the shortened season. Miami finished the season ranked as high as No. 5 by Baseball America and was in the top-15 of all six major pollsThe Canes came in at No. 7 in the D1 Baseball Top 25, USA TODAY Coaches Poll and NCBWA Top 25, No. 9 in the final Collegiate Baseball poll and No. 11 in Perfect Game’s final top 25.

Third-year catcher Adrian Del Castillo is considered among the best prospects in the 2021 MLB Draft class.

Miami brings back one of the deepest lineups in the country, with eight of its nine starting hitters from a season ago returning to Coral Gables for the 2021 season.

Adrian Del Castillo headlines the potent Miami offense, as the third-year catcher is considered among the best prospects in the 2021 MLB Draft class. The Miami native has been a hitting machine in his two years at The U, hitting .336 with 24 doubles, 14 home runs and 87 RBI over 77 games played.

Alex Toral, who was the ACC home run king with 24 round-trippers in 2019, brings his big bat back to the heart of Miami’s lineup after hitting .296 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 16 games a year ago. Infielder Anthony Vilar (.297, 5 2B, 15 RBI) will look to continue his success in his third season at Miami, while outfielder Gabe Rivera, Tony Jenkins and Jordan Lala all return for another season with the Canes.

Veteran Daniel Federman brings experience to the pitcher’s mound, as the right-hander is back for a fourth season with the Hurricanes. A year ago, Federman had a 2.08 ERA, three saves and 11 strikeouts over 8.2 innings pitched as Miami’s closer, but he is expected to transition to a starter’s role in 2021. Graduate transfer Ben Wanger, who was a second-team All-American a year ago at USC (3 SV, 0.00 ERA, 8 K), is expected to take over as Miami’s closer this season.

In addition to the talented returners on Miami’s roster, the Hurricanes brought in the top recruiting class in the nation according to both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. The Hurricanes landed three top-100 recruits and five top-200 players among Baseball America’s individual player rankings, leading the nation in both categories.

Right-handed pitcher Victor Mederos is Miami’s top-rated recruit according to Baseball America, coming in at No. 59 overall. Fellow right-hander Alejandro Rosario (60) and shortstop Yohandy Morales (77) make up the trio of top-100 prospects

Catcher Carlos Perez (137) and right-handed pitcher Jake Smith (146) round out the top-200 prospects, while outfielder/first baseman CJ Kayfus (344) gives Miami six of the top 350 prospects in the 2020 MLB Draft class, according to Baseball America.