2015 Regional Previews: Coral Gables

BA breaks down all the regionals, including Coral Gables, hosted by Miami.

STAT PACK (national rank in parentheses)
Avg. Scoring (R/G) HR SB ERA K/9 WHIP Fielding %age
1. Miami .315 (5) 8.4 (2) 59 (12) 79 (41) 3.05 (22) 7.6 (87) 1.20 (16) .969 (104)
2. East Carolina .283 (93) 5.2 (167) 38 (82) 41 (206) 3.29 (34) 6.9 (152) 1.25 (31) .972 (66)
3. Columbia .297 (32) 6.8 (33) 48 (33) 61 (101) 3.92 (88) 6.9 (154) 1.44 (135) .965 (171)
4. Florida International .280 (107) 6.2 (70) 48 (33) 33 (248) 3.96 (97) 7.4 (98) 1.45 (140) .967 (141)

1. Miami (44-14, 22-8 in ACC)
miami
44th appearance (43rd straight), at-large, first place in ACC Coastal

Top 200 Prospects: LHP Andrew Suarez (73), 3B David Thompson (102)

Season In A Sentence: The Hurricanes got ridiculously hot down the stretch, especially offensively, reeling off a 13-game winning streak to win the ACC Coastal Division and earn the No. 5 national seed.

Strengths: There's not much they can't do offensively. David Thompson, the national home run leader (19 HR), and Zack Collins (15 HR) can crush balls all day long, and the Canes are loaded with a mix of athletes like Ricky Eusebio (.293/.447/.410, 18 SB) and smart hitters like George Iskenderian (.379/.471/.489) and Garrett Kennedy (.347/.448/.518). The rotation has a quality one-two in strike-throwing lefty Thomas Woodrey (6-2, 2.72) and fellow lefty Andrew Suarez (7-1, 3.09), who has a louder arsenal and dominated over the season's last four weeks. Four Miami relievers have double-digit appearances and ERAs under 2.00.

Question Marks: There aren't many. The Canes haven't been the most lockdown defensive team, ranking outside the top 100 nationally in fielding percentage. And for what it's worth, seven of their 13 wins during the streak were against the likes of Pittsburgh, Bethune-Cookman and New York Tech.

Outlook: FIU is dangerous enough offensively that the Canes will probably have to throw Woodrey or Suarez in that game, but none of the other teams in this regional have the caliber of arms to slow down their bats for a full weekend. The Hurricanes haven't been to Omaha since 2008, an interminable drought by their standards. All the pieces are in place for this team to break through.


2. East Carolina (40-20, 15-9 in AAC)
eastcarolina
27th appearance (last in 2012), automatic, second place in AAC, AAC tournament champion

Top 200 Prospects: None

Season In A Sentence: First-year head coach Cliff Godwin led a remarkable turnaround in Greenville, taking a team that finished in sixth place in Conference USA last season and getting the Pirates into regionals in their first year in the AAC.

Strengths: The Pirates don't have Miami's star power, but they do have plenty of team toughness, a hallmark of that program. Juniors Luke Lowery (.313/.411/.561, 12 HR) and Bryce Harman (.241/.346/.427, 7 HR) provide some thump, and the lineup has five regulars hitting .300 or better. Senior two-way threat Reid Love (.300/.362/.400; 7-3, 2.84) and sophomore Evan Kruczynski (8-4, 3.06) know how to mix on the mound, and closer Joe Ingle (1-0, 0.88, 8 SV) has dominant numbers, with a .140 opponents' average and 41 strikeouts in 31 innings, and can reach the low 90s.

Question Marks: The Pirates don't have much power outside of Lowery and Harman, as no one else on the roster has more than four homers. They're essentially a station-to-station offense, ranking dead last in the AAC in steals (41), last in triples (nine) and next-to-last in doubles (74). Much as their starters will compete, none of them have above-average velocity.

Outlook: It would be out of character for the Pirates to play like they're just happy to be there, despite this being their first regional in three years. But it's a tall ask for them to go down to Coral Gables and knock out the Canes. Whatever happens, it's already been a successful season.


3. Columbia (31-15, 16-4 in Ivy)
columbia
Fifth appearance (third straight), automatic, Ivy League regular season co-champion and tournament champion

Top 200 Prospects: None

Season In A Sentence: The Lions have reached the 30-win mark for the first time ever and returned to regionals as a No. 3 seed—they were for the first Ivy to ever be 3 last year—for the second consecutive season.

Strengths: Columbia's numbers show it's a solid offensive team, and it's not just a mirage or a product of their competition. The Lions are a veteran, battle-tested group with some legitimate physicality in their lineup. They slugged 48 home runs in 46 games, ranking 16th in the nation in terms of home runs per game (1.04). Seniors Joey Falcone (.347/.429/.676, 11 HR) and Ivy co-player of the year Gus Craig (.331/.396/.590, 8 HR) are the most dangerous, and junior catcher Logan Boyher (.317/.441/.476, 2 HR) has been hot down the stretch, including his going 6-for-12 in the Ivy League championship series against Dartmouth.

Question Marks: Columbia's arms aren't as imposing, though juniors Kevin Roy (6-3, 2.66) and George Thanopoulos (5-5, 3.65) are good enough to give them a chance and let the offense do its thing. They're also the leakiest defensive team in the regional.

Outlook: Columbia proved it can compete with quality opposition when it split a four-game series with Houston early in the season. They're not going to outslug Miami, but they're capable of giving either of the other teams in this regional a run for their money.


4. Florida International (29-29, 13-17 in C-USA)
FIUUsethis
11th appearance (last in 2011), automatic, tied for seventh place in C-USA, C-USA tournament champion

Top 200 Prospects: None

Season In A Sentence: Expected to be one of C-USA's better teams, the Golden Panthers had a thoroughly disappointing regular season, but they found some mojo in the conference tournament, going 4-0—their first four-game winning streak since late February—to steal a third bid for the league.

Strengths: If there was a home run derby attached to the regional, the Panthers could hold their own. Big, strong second baseman Edwin Rios (.314/.427/.610) is the top name to watch, his 18 homers just one off David Thompson's national lead, and third baseman Josh Anderson (.271/.357/.436, 7 HR) slugged three homers last week in the conference tournament. Senior outfielder Brian Portelli (.350/.399/.504, 4 HR) protects Rios in the lineup and is one of C-USA's better pure hitters.

Question Marks: The Panthers' defense could be a nightmare at times early, though it has gotten better. FIU has a dependable pair of relievers at the back of the bullpen in righthanders Danny Dopico (2-4, 2.11, 10 saves) and Williams Durruthy (2-1, 2.31, 2 saves), but the starters have been inconsistent. As a whole, the Panthers struggle to throw strikes, ranking 242nd in the country in walks allowed per nine (4.6), a recipe for disaster against the caliber of lineups they'll see this weekend, particularly Miami's on Friday night.

Outlook: Despite being just nine miles apart, FIU and Miami haven't played each other on the diamond since 2008 and have generally avoided scheduling each other in any sport since their football teams had an infamous brawl in 2006. So that game has some spice, but for the rest of the weekend, FIU will go as far as Rios and its bats can carry it.

Comments