Mervyl Melendez, FIU (FIU)

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Spotlight: FIU’s Young Guns Growing

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MIAMI — FIU Panthers coach Mervyl Melendez isn’t gloating over his team’s 14-6 win over their cross-town rivals, the Miami Hurricanes, on Wednesday night.

After all, Miami (17-23) appears headed for a second straight year without an NCAA postseason berth. The Canes are 3-9 against Florida schools, including 0-3 against Florida Atlantic and 0-2 vs. FIU, both from Conference USA.

Meanwhile, FIU’s website hailed the Panthers as “CITY CHAMPS, AGAIN”, noting that Miami has lost six of the past eight games in the series.

Melendez, though, was much more restrained.

“It’s another game,” he said. “Miami and us, we both have conference schedules we need to concentrate on.”

FIU, after all, has been far from dominant this season, managing losing records overall (19-21) and in C-USA (8-10).

But the Panthers are trying to build something here, and Melendez wears the hard hat as the chief architect.

FIU’s 2018 freshman class could have included dynamic outfielder Heliot Ramos and catcher MJ Melendez, the coach’s son. But Ramos signed a pro contract with the Giants, who drafted him in the first round; and Melendez signed with the Royals, who selected him in the second round.

In addition, FIU lost outfielder Jonathan Rodriguez (third round, Indians), right-hander Wilberto Rivera (eighth round, Cardinals) and outfielder Andres Santana (29th round, Astros).

Losing all that talent would cripple most mid-major recruiting classes … but not FIU’s.

“I think people are starting to realize that we are going to work,” FIU recruiting coordinator Jered Goodwin said.

 


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