By Brett Shweky/Sports Director
During the 2016 regular-season finale, right-hander Andres Nunez tore his right lat muscle following his 62nd pitch of the game against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. This uncommon baseball injury resulted in Nunez and FIU head team physician Dr. Keith Hechtman to seek advice from other doctors throughout the major and minor league level.
Almost a year later, infielder Eddie Silva sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament while warming up in between innings against the University of Miami and inevitably needed Tommy John surgery.
With these high school and now college teammates entering their final years of eligibility, they both understood for them to reach the professional levels they would need to have comeback seasons. The 2018 campaign proved to be the breakout season that both of these players needed.
Silva recorded a conference-high 16 home runs this year while also leading the squad with 48 RBI. The Archbishop McCarthy alumnus concluded the year with the sixth most home runs in a single FIU baseball season which tied Hiram Silfa who also hit 16 home runs during the 1999 season.
“Sixteen home runs in a year by a player that had four home runs in the three previous years says a lot,” said Melendez.
The redshirt junior was selected to the All-Conference USA First Team and was even named Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week during the week of April 16-22.
Nunez became the team’s ace midway through the season and managed to lead the Panthers’ pitching staff with a 6-2 record and a 3.42 ERA. The redshirt junior right-hander was named to the All-Conference USA Second Team following his breakthrough season and also received the Conference Pitcher of the Week award on April 23.
“He was out for about a year and a half. To come back and do well, and serve as our number one at the end of the year, it speaks volumes of the job that he did and the job that our coaches did with them,” said Melendez on Nunez and the stellar season he had.
Both Nunez and Silva were leaders for the Panthers this season, but now they will take their talents to the professional ranks.
On Wednesday, June 27, Eddie Silva signed a free agent contract with the Milwaukee Brewers to join Nunez in the professionals after he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals earlier in the month. The Royals selected Nunez in the 29th round of the 2018 MLB draft.