The Miami baseball team kicks off its season in a few weeks. As opening day approaches, the expectations for this season continue to build. The Canes open the season ranked first and are expected to make another trip back to the College World Series. These aspirations hinge on the returning talent of last year’s team, particularly in the outfield. Junior outfielders Willie Abreu and Jacob Heyward will play an integral role in propelling the Canes to success this coming season.
After two impressive seasons of All-ACC third-team honors, Abreu has the talent to take his game to the next level this season and become a first-team All-ACC player. He scares opposing pitchers with his ability to hit for contact as well as power. He posted an impressive .288 batting average last season, hitting six home runs and recording 47 RBIs in the process. Even more impressive than his season totals was his production when it mattered most. He performed his best from the plate during the team’s run through the ACC tournament and into the College World Series. He drove in five runs to close out the NCAA Regional against Columbia and hit a homer in the clinching game of the Super Regional against Virginia Commonwealth University. Look for Abreu to hopefully carry this hot streak over into this season and help get the team off to a fast start.
Abreu is joined by Heyward, who broke onto the scene with a big second half of the 2015 season. He solidified his role as the starting left fielder and finished the season with an impressive .327 batting average. Much like Abreu, Heyward came in clutch during the team’s postseason run. He became the team’s most reliable hitter during the NCAA Tournament and hit for a ridiculous .455 average on the big stage of the College World Series. Heyward begins this season with a starting role in hand and could become one of the best players in the ACC.
The sky is the limit for both of these outfielders, and the Canes will rely heavily on their contributions from the batter’s box. As indicated by last year’s postseason run, the team plays its best baseball when these two guys get hot. If Abreu and Heyward can build upon their individual success from last season, the Canes will have a great shot at making another deep postseason push.