Miami baseball players drafted by MLB won’t hurt Hurricanes future


The Miami baseball program had a bounce-back season in a big way in 2019. After losing in the regional final the Hurricanes have a lot to build on in spite of the five players selected in the Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Pitchers Evan McKendry, Gregory Veliz, Mark Mixon and Tyler Keysor and catcher Michael Amditis were the five Miami baseball players selected on the MLB Draft on Tuesday and Wednesday.

McKendry was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays ninth round by the Rays with the 278th overall pick. McKendry was the first Miami baseball player taken off the board. He was also the only Hurricanes player selected in the first two days of the draft. The other four Hurricanes were selected on the draft’s third and final day,

McKendry was followed by Veliz in the 15th round to the Los Angeles Angels, Amditis in the 21st round to the Cleveland Indians, Mixon in the 26th to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Keysor in the 40th and final round to the Milwaukee Brewers. Former Canes Ryan Braun and Yasmani Grandal currently play for Milwaukee.

McKendry is almost definitely gone. He has the option of returning for his senior season in 2020. The 2018 ninth round picks received between $143,000 and $154,000 in bonuses.

The Miami baseball roster is loaded with freshmen and sophomores. The loss of any of all of the five players selected in the draft will not be a big hindrance to the Hurricanes outlook for 2020.

If in the likelihood that McKendry signs with the Angels, rising junior Chris McMahon will move up into the Friday night spot in the Hurricanes rotation. Brian VanBelle is likely to be the Saturday starter with Slade Cecconi moving from midweek to Sunday.

Keysor was a key swingman for the Miami baseball team in 2019. The junior college transfer could decide to return to improve his draft status in 2020. Keysor was 6-1 with a 3.78 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 47.2 innings this season. If Keysor decides to return for 2020 he would likely be a midweek starter.

Mixon was valuable out of the Miami bullpen in 2019. Another key junior college addition for Gino DiMare in 2019, Mixon went 3-1 with a  2.33 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 27 innings. Mixon is in the same situation as Keysor with a decision to make to return to Miami and improve his spot in the draft in 2020 or sign with the Dodgers.

The likelihood is that Mixon signs with the Dodgers. A 26th round selection for a middle reliever in college is a good opportunity with one of baseball’s best organizations. Mixon would not likely be the closer for Miami in 2020 even if Veliz signs with the Angels. Danny Federman in the heir apparent.

Veliz was outstanding as the primary closer for the Miami baseball team in 2019. He went 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA and nine saves with 69 strikeouts in 42.1 innings. Federman went 3-5 with a 3.51, seven saves and 60 strikeouts in 48.2 innings in 2019. He is ready to be the Miami closer.

Amditis has two years of eligibility remaining. He was eligible for the 2019 MLB draft as a third-year sophomore. The Hurricanes backstop redshirted in 2017 after missing all but six games his true freshman season because of an injury. Amditis hit .273 with seven home runs, 24 RBIs and a .436 slugging percentage in 2019.

The Hurricanes were exceptionally deep at catcher in 2019. Isaac Quinones did not play much in 2019 but was a freshman all-American in 2018 with Amditis missing significant time with injuries. Adrian Del Castillo was a freshman All-American as a designated hitter in 2019 and listed as a catcher on the Miami roster.

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DiMare has infused new energy into the Miami baseball program much like Manny Diaz has with the baseball program. The Hurricanes should be top ten in 2020 preseason national rankings.