What’s next for Miami Baseball after three players selected in MLB Draft?

CORAL GABLES, FL - May 1:(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
CORAL GABLES, FL - May 1:(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

For the first time since 2008, the Miami baseball team saw three of its star players taken within the top 60 picks of the MLB Draft. Which other Canes may decide to turn pro?

Miami baseball Sunday starter Slade Cecconi was first off the board first on Day one with the 33rd pick to the Diamondbacks. The pick was in the Competitive Balance Round of the first round. The righty racked up 119 strikeouts across just 100 innings with the team.

The draft-eligible sophomore was the first Cane taken in the first round since former Miami baseball star catcher Zack Collins went 10th overall to the White Sox in the 2016 MLB Draft. Cecconi’s 6’4″ stature with a fastball often touching 96 mph got the attention of scouts from across the league.

Saturday starter Chris McMahon would not have to wait long on day two to hear his name called. The Colorado Rockies got phenomenal value when they took the righty at 46th overall. Many believed that McMahon would be a first-round selection along with Cecconi.

McMahon was in the midst of a breakout 2020 season, posting a 1.05 era over four starts. He stood in the middle of a dominant Hurricanes rotation before the 2020 season was cut short. Just seven picks later, Canes shortstop Freddy Zamora was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers.

The junior’s low MLB prospect rank of 100 may have had more to do with the knee injury that kept him out of 2020 entirely than any of the shortstop’s production. Zamora was as reliable a bat as any in the Hurricanes lineup while in Coral Gables.

The Miami native hit an even .300 over his two seasons and established himself as Miami’s three-hitter in the batting order in 2019. With the departure of Cecconi, McMahon, and Zamora to pro ball, the question becomes which Canes eligible to sign as undrafted free agents will additionally opt to sign professionally.

The first player that comes to mind is Canes slugger and first baseman, Alex Toral. The 186th-ranked prospect on MLB.com surprisingly went undrafted despite having the third-most home runs in all of Division I baseball in 2019 (24).

It’s no secret that Toral’s tough freshman year may have hurt his draft stock. Toral hit just .161 with one home run and 11 RBIs before exploding in 2019. Another Hurricanes star that went undrafted was senior Brian Van Belle. The Hurricanes ace was Miami’s top pitcher in 2019, posting a 10-2 record with a 3.30 era.

But the Canes’ Friday night starter was on pace to easily usurp that season in 2020. Van Belle posted a ridiculous 0.68 ERA through the four starts he was able to get in this season. The NCAA’s decision to grant spring athletes an extra year of eligibility allows Van Belle to come back for one more season should he decide to do so.

With the signing maximum of $20,000 for undrafted players, the Hurricanes may get another year of their ace, wherein other years they probably wouldn’t have. Similar to Toral, Miami native Raymond Gil had a breakout 2019 season after struggling in 2018.

The third baseman became easily the Miami baseball team’s second-best power bat and even hit .313 his sophomore year. Head Coach Gino DiMare was quoted by Inside the U before the draft.

"“Every junior has told me they would not sign as a free agent because of the fact of the limitation they can get….I can’t see a recruit doing that…I would hope that none of the recruits would sign as free agents. They’ve all told us they absolutely would not.”"

So it does appear as though Miami will get Toral and Gil, two of its best bats, back for at least one more season. Five of Miami’s signees for the 2020 class were acknowledged in the MLB Draft prospect rankings. Surprisingly, just one was selected with one of the draft’s 160 picks.

Shortstop Sammy Infante was selected 71st overall by the Washington Nationals. Likewise, DiMare doesn’t expect any other members from the class to opt for pro ball instead of coming to campus.

Next. How 2020 MLB Draft affects Miami roster moving forward. dark

So the biggest piece of the puzzle for the Miami baseball team’s 2021 shot at a trip to Omaha for the College World Series will be with likely be with the decision Van Belle decides to make. But regardless, the Canes are still well situated for next spring.