A bit of good news and bad news for UM baseball, which is sitting out the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1972:
Its current roster likely won’t be decimated by the MLB Draft, but as usual, several Hurricanes signees could be drafted high, turn pro and never make it to campus.
UM’s roster doesn’t have a player as highly regarded as Zack Collins, the catcher who went 10th overall in 2016 to the Chicago White Sox, and should keep much of the same core after losing six juniors to the draft last year.
Like last year, when Miami lost three highly rated recruits to the pros, the draft may not be kind to Miami’s recruiting class.
Five Hurricanes signees are ranked in Baseball America’s top 100: shortstop/third baseman Mark Vientos (No. 40), shortstop Jeter Downs (No. 54), Park Vista High right-hander James Marinan (No. 59), right-hander Chris McMahon (No. 77) and right-hander/first baseman Joe Perez (No. 99).
UM is well aware of the possibility that all could be drafted high, accept inflated signing bonuses and turn pro. In its latest mock draft, BA has Vientos going in the second round (No. 34 overall) to the Milwaukee Brewers and Downs heading to the Miami Marlins two picks later. It would be a surprise if either makes it to campus, though UM is concerned about the others as well.
Further down BA’s list of 500 prospects are first baseman Alex Toral (No. 200), outfielder Gabe Rivera (No. 330) and first baseman Connor Allen (No. 441).
MLB.com’s top 200 has six of the same players in a slightly different order: Downs (No. 37), Marinan (No. 65), Vientos (No. 67), McMahon (No. 100), Perez (No. 92) and Toral (No. 199).
No current Hurricane is listed in BA’s top 500, which can be thought of as approximately 15 rounds’ worth of prospects. Junior center fielder Carl Chester, Miami’s leading hitter and arguably its top draft prospect, was a 38th-round draft pick and BA’s No. 69 high school prospect in 2014. Among pitchers, right-hander Jesse Lepore (6-4, 220) and lefty Michael Mediavilla (6-5, 225) stand a good chance of being drafted, with “projectability” being the buzzword insiders use for both. They have large, power-pitcher frames and room to grow.
Junior lefty Jeb Bargfeldt, who became UM’s ace — and a second-team All-ACC pick — after transferring from junior college, also bears watching, though his height (listed at 6-0, 170) and lack of velocity (usually in the high 80s) isn’t as “projectable.”
UM will lose seven seniors including shortstop Johnny Ruiz (drafted in the 28th round in 2016), first baseman Chris Barr and third baseman Edgar Michelangeli.
The draft runs June 12-14 in Seacaucus, New Jersey, and is televised on MLB Network and MLB.tv.