Hurricanes star Yohandy Morales picked on first night of MLB draft
One of the top hitters in Hurricanes history is likely headed to the pros.
The Washington Nationals picked Miami third baseman Yohandy Morales with the 40th pick in the MLB draft on Sunday night. He is the first of several UM players likely to be selected this year.
“(He) turned out to be one of our all-time great players,” former Miami coach Gino DiMare said. “Clutch player. He’s just a great, great teammate that the players looked up to.”
Morales, a Miami Braddock High alumnus, will likely receive a large signing bonus to persuade him from returning to Miami for his senior year. The slot bonus for the 40th pick is $2,144,700.
Morales spent three seasons with the Hurricanes, placing fourth all-time in program history with 49 home runs. In his three seasons, he hit .343 with a 1.048 OPS and 174 RBIs.
Last year, he hit .408 with a 1.174 OPS and 20 home runs. He was a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist, an All-ACC first-team selection and was picked for All-American teams by Perfect Game and ABCA/Rawlings.
“It’s the development,” DiMare said. “It’s getting bigger, getting stronger, improving on all your skills. What comes with that? Hard work. Hard work in the weight room, hard work in practice, being more confident — even though he had a lot of it when he came in.”
Morales proved to be a clutch player in big moments. He hit .486 (17 for 35) with seven home runs and 17 RBIs in postseason play, though it was not enough to get the Hurricanes out of regional play.
“When the lights went on, he was all about winning and doing the best for the team,” DiMare said.
Morales’ defense at third base may have impacted his draft stock with MLB teams, but he showed steady improvement during his three years at UM. As a freshman, he made 11 errors and had a .903 fielding percentage. But this season he made just six errors and had a .954 fielding percentage.
“He had made some errors early on, but he had the ability to be a very good third baseman,” DiMare said. “I think he worked hard at it in practice, and he got better and better. Defensively, he was excellent for us this year.”
DiMare is confident that his former player will find success at the next level.
“The pro-ball thing is not going to overwhelm him,” DiMare said. “He’s going to go through — like anybody — going to go through struggles and what not; you’ve got to make adjustments to things. But whoever drafts him is going to get an extremely high-character player that’s a winner, that has a lot of tools. It’s only going to continue to develop and get better and better.”