Katin has breakthrough weekend for Hurricanes

Outfielder Brendan Katin has been making the most of a difficult adjustment from junior college baseball to competing against the likes of Florida and Tennessee on a regular basis.

Katin, a junior transfer from Lake Sumter Community College, broke out this past weekend with two home runs, including a grand slam in the Hurricanes’ victory over LaSalle. The Fort Myers, Fla. native struggled in the ‘Canes’ first two series but was able to improve his batting average to .320 as of Mar. 2.

“This past weekend was a big confidence boost,” Katin said. “I’ve been struggling a bit trying to solidify a spot in the line-up…the big difference was that I wasn’t striking out. I was putting the ball in play.”

If facing elite pitching wasn’t enough of a culture shock for Katin, the former catcher was moved to the outfield by Head Coach Jim Morris when Danny Figueroa and Brian Barton were sidelined with injuries. Figueroa is not expected to return to the Hurricanes until April, so Katin will have plenty of chances to improve.

While Katin has played in the outfield before, he was a catcher during his final year at Lake Sumter. He said that the transition to the outfield has come naturally.

“I am definitely most comfortable in the outfield,” he said. “I have only caught two full seasons, in high school and my sophomore year in junior college. The big thing for me is being able to hit no matter where I play.”

Morris said that Katin will primarily play in the outfield for the ‘Canes.

“We are going to see if he can play first base and catch a little bit, but we think his best position is in the outfield,” Morris said. “The strength of his game is his power. The ball jumps off his bat better than anyone on the team.”

Katin said that playing for the Hurricanes is far different from junior college in terms of preparation, skill level, focus, and the mentality of each player.

“We have guys here that are playing to win, while in junior college players are trying to move on to the next level,” he said.

Katin said he has not played for a winning team in recent memory.

“We are 7-3 right now, which is probably the best starting record I have had since Little League…it is a huge difference here,” he said.

Another aspect of Hurricane baseball that Katin has had to get used to is the anxiety of each start. He said that each at-bat is filled with pressure to maintain his starting spot.

“On this team, if you don’t perform, you are out of the line-up,” he said. “Even when you are playing, you have the feeling that you have to perform well in order to stay in the line-up.”

Katin had knee surgery in the fall, so his progress was delayed until the spring. With the preseason and early schedule out of the way, he said that he is close to full strength and has been happy with his improvement up to this point.

That said, Katin is not completely satisfied.

“I would like to be more consistent at the plate,” he said. “I need to have more two and three hit games as opposed to having a big game and then going one for four the next day.”

While Katin may be a bit hard on himself, Morris said he could not have expected more from a player in his unique situation.

“It’s a tough process [adjusting to Miami baseball],” Morris said. “He’s playing good competition every day. I am sure it was tough for him coming in [at the beginning of the season]. With the schedule that we play early on he kind of got thrown into the fire.”

Eric Kalis can be contacted at e.kalis@umiami.edu.