Posted: 12:24 pm Saturday, February 1st, 2014
Baseball: UM’s Andrew Suarez is top local 2014 draft prospect, Park Vista alum Trea Turner No. 3 overall
By Matt Porter
How good could UM’s pitching staff potentially be?
So good that the man who enters the season as the Canes’ No. 3 starter, redshirt sophomore left-hander Andrew Suarez, is considered the top college prospect in all of South Florida.
That’s the opinion of Baseball America, which ranked Suarez No. 23 among all draft-eligible players in its annual preseason top 100 list. He is rated the third-best draft prospect among ACC pitchers, behind North Carolina State ace Carlos Rodon, the top draft prospect, and Florida State’s Luke Weaver.
Suarez is highly regarded despite unimpressive statistics. He went 3-6 with a 3.95 ERA, with 57 strikeouts and 19 walks in 86 2/3 innings. That was far behind UM’s top two starters, Bryan Radziewski (9-3, 1.78, 109 strikeouts in 91 innings, .175 batting average against) and Chris Diaz (7-5, 1.64, 78 strikeouts in 109 2/3 innings). Those two, both junior lefthanders who returned to the draft, had the lowest ERAs of any ACC starting pitchers.
But Suarez, a ninth-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays out of Miami-Columbus High in 2011, is considered a much better pro prospect due to a fastball that topped out at 96 mph during fall ball.
Suarez missed most of his freshman year with shoulder surgery, then saw his velocity dip to 85 last year. According to the Miami Herald, Canes pitching coach J.D. Arteaga said he had never seen a player take such giant strides forward in one offseason.
The Canes are ranked in the top 20 of every major preseason poll, with an incoming recruiting class ranked between 4th and 6th.
Baseball America, which ranks UM 16th, took a swing at projecting the Canes’ starters and closer (the starting rotation is an easy call; everyone’s back).
As far as the top draft-eligible hitters, Palm Beach County baseball fans may recognize the name atop that list: North Carolina State shortstop Trea Turner, who used to play at Park Vista. BA ranks Turner the No. 3 college prospect nationally. Here’s what the publication wrote about him:
• North Carolina State shortstop Trea Turner is in the top seven in all three slash categories (.351/.443/.503) with more walks (13.4 percent) than strikeouts (11.7 percent). Turner’s top-of-the-scale speed enables his ability to get on base (he has the fourth-highest BABIP at .383), and wreak havoc once on base, with 51 more steals (87) than any other junior (Kansas State senior Ross Kivett has 56 steals but has played three seasons).
UM’s fan fest and alumni game are Feb. 8 at Mark Light Park. The season opener is Feb. 14 against Maine.