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Two Canes Named First-Team Preseason All-Americans

by David Villavicencio

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – One might be the best pure hitter in the country and the other could be the top power bat in Division I, but both are now first-team preseason All-Americans.

Miami stars Adrian Del Castillo and Alex Toral were named to Baseball America’s Preseason All-America first team, making the Hurricanes one of two programs with two first-team selections on Baseball America’s top preseason team. The complete Baseball America preseason All-America teams can be viewed here.

Del Castillo added his fourth first-team recognition ahead of the upcoming season, as the third-year player was also named to the first-team by D1 Baseball, Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game. Toral also garnered his fourth preseason accolade, adding this first-team distinction to second-team honors by both Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game and a third-team selection by D1 Baseball. Toral is one of four players to repeat as Baseball America preseason All-Americans, as he was voted to the third team in 2020.

One of the best hitters in America, Del Castillo is considered among the top prospects in the 2021 MLB Draft class. The third-year catcher 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. In a 16-game shortened season a year ago, Del Castillo led the Hurricanes with a .358 batting average and was tied for the team lead in runs scored (13) and hits (19), while his 15 RBI tied for second on the club.

“Adrian Del Castillo is arguably one of the best hitters in the country and he’s certainly one of the best hitters we’ve had here, just pure hitters that can hit the ball all over the place, and he hits for power and he’s an RBI machine,” head coach Gino DiMare said. “He also possesses a great feel for the strike zone and for a power guy is a difficult guy to strikeout. His defense has continued to improve in all phases and he commands respect from all his teammates. He is a very coachable player and one of our leaders on our ball club.”

A 2020 Preseason All-American by four different publications, Del Castillo was an offensive juggernaut in his debut season with the Canes. The standout finished the 2019 campaign batting .331 with 78 hits, 22 doubles and 72 RBI, all team-bests. The Miami native also scored 58 runs and clubbed 12 homers, while striking out just 24 times in 236 at-bats. A versatile player who saw time in right field, catcher, designated hitter and third base, he tied for the team lead with 22 multi-hit games and was second on the team with 18 multi-RBI performances.

“It’s always an honor to be named a preseason All-American and it’s nice to see that people are seeing the hard work and dedication that we have been doing as players and as a team,” Del Castillo said.

Del Castillo’s 72 RBI were the second-most by a UM freshman in program history, finishing just four shy of Ryan Braun’s record 76, set in 2003. The 72 runs batted in were also the most by a Miami freshman since Yonder Alonso drove in 69 as a freshman in 2006. His 18 multi-RBI games were the most by a Hurricane freshman since Zack Collins posted 15 in 2014. A Freshman All-America selection by four publications, Del Castillo earned a host of awards after his collegiate debut season, including Second Team All-ACC, ACC All-Freshman Team, ABCA All-Region and All-Starkville Regional Team honors.

“Del is a hard-working guy and always serious about what he does,” Toral said. “Having a guy like him around with the talent he has and character he carries himself with really make our team better. He and I feed off each other and we are looking forward to propelling us to a national championship run.”

“I’m super happy for Toral but we both know the one that really counts is when we’re All-Americans at the end of the season.”

Miami catcher Adrian Del Castillo

Already one of the top power hitters in the nation a year ago, Toral brings his big bat back to the heart of Miami’s lineup after leading the team with five home runs and 16 RBI in 16 games a year ago. The fourth-year junior posted a .296 batting average in 2020, while leading the team with a.593 slugging percentage and was second on the Canes with .435 on-base percentage.

“Alex has been one of the best left-handed power hitters in college baseball for the last two years,” DiMare said. “He is an intimidating presence in the middle of our lineup and is a guy that can produce RBIs in bunches. His ability to be able to hit the ball out of the park at any time makes him an extremely dangerous hitter for us. Alex is also a great example of what a student-athlete should represent as he is one of our better students on the team and is a great leader both on and off the field.”

Toral flexed his muscles at the plate in 2019 for the Canes, hitting an ACC-leading 24 home runs that ranked third in Division I and helped propel Miami to a conference-high 85 homers on the year. The herculean first baseman’s 24 homers moved him into a tie with Yonder Alonso for the second-most home runs by a Hurricane in a single season.

“I’m super happy for Toral but we both know the one that really counts is when we’re All-Americans at the end of the season,” Del Castillo said. “Since my freshman year, we’ve been the power lefties in the middle of the lineup driving in runs and that’s exactly what we need to continue to do this year.”

In addition to his prolific power numbers, Toral hit .293 with six doubles, 47 runs scored and 67 RBI. The Davie, Fla., native’s 19 multi-RBI games led the Canes and he also posted 15 multi-hit performances. An outstanding performance in his first NCAA tournament earned Toral a spot on the 2019 All-Starkville Regional Team.

“It’s always great to have preseason honors and it shows that hard work is being noticed,” Toral said. “At the end of the day, my goal is to help get us to Omaha and win a national title. If we do that, then I know I did my part.”

In addition to Del Castillo and Toral, two-way players Ben Wanger and JP Gates have picked up preseason All-America recognition ahead of the 2021 season. Wanger was named to the second team by Collegiate Baseball while Gates garnered third-team honors from Perfect Game.

Miami is expected to be one of the top teams in the country in 2021. The Hurricanes came in at No. 6 in Collegiate Baseball’s Fabulous 50 NCAA Division I Pre-Season Poll and No. 7 in Perfect Game’s preseason rankings. Miami was picked No. 11 in the Baseball America preseason top 25 and No. 21 by D1 Baseball.