Inexperienced bullpen still has talent

There are a lot of questions regarding a University of Miami baseball team that lost eight players to the MLB draft last year.

One of the few certainties is the closer, right-hander Kyle Bellamy.

The 6’5”, 220-pound junior was one of the best setup men in college baseball as he posted a microscopic 1.86 ERA in 63 innings of work while compiling a 6-0 record.

This year he will replace Carlos Gutierrez, who was selected in the first round by the Minnesota Twins.

“There is not much of a difference,” Bellamy said. “Last year really helped a lot because I would come in the seventh or eighth inning in a tie game or a one-run lead. I felt more relaxed on the mound as the season progressed. I got into a groove and felt more and more comfortable out there.”

Bellamy has a side-arm delivery and his changeup keeps hitters off balance.

“The last inning is the toughest to pitch in baseball,” head coach Jim Morris said. “It takes a mentally tough guy. I think Kyle is ready for the challenge. He is one of the leaders on this team.”

The bridge between the starters and Bellamy is where the questions arise.

Junior right-hander Rene Guerra has the most experience as a setup man, but the players with the most talent are newcomers Sam Robinson and Kevin Youst.

Robinson is a southpaw from Miami Killian Senior High who was named first team All-Dade County and finished his senior season 5-2 with a 1.11 ERA and 50 strikeouts. Youst, a righty, sat out his last year at American Heritage in Plantation due to elbow surgery. He is 100 percent healthy now and should be able to make an immediate impact in the bullpen.

Junior college transfer Taylor Wulf, who was scheduled to be the Sunday starter, will be added to the bullpen. The 6’0″, 235-pound righty features a live fastball and a knee-buckling 12-to-6 curveball. Wulf was 10-1 with a solid 3.82 ERA at Alvin Community College in Texas last season.

The wildcard in the bullpen is Youst’s roommate, redshirt freshman D.J. Swatcheno.

Like Youst, Swatcheno missed all of last season due to elbow surgery. During his rehab, he suffered a setback when doctors found built-up scar tissue and had to perform another surgery. The lefty is currently long tossing and should be throwing bullpen sessions in the next couple of weeks. He is exptected to be back on the mound in a couple of months and will immediately be inserted in the bullpen when healthy.

February 15, 2009


Justin Antweil

Senior Sports Writer

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