If the UNC baseball team misses the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive year in 2017, it won’t be due to a lack of talent.
In addition to having five players ranked among Baseball America’s Top 100 College Prospects, the Tar Heels now have a pair of Preseason All-Americans.
Perfect Game, a website that covers amateur baseball, named UNC starting pitcher JB Bukauskas to its First Team All-America on Monday while placing outfielder Brian Miller on the Second Team.
Bukauskas–a 6-foot right-hander whose 97 mph fastball has him ranked as the No. 3 prospect in America–is widely projected to be a first-round pick in this June’s MLB Draft.
He went 7-2 last season with a 3.10 ERA, and will take over at the top of the rotation for the Tar Heels after Zac Gallen was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in last year’s draft.
While Bukauskas has been on the radar of pro teams since he was in high school–famously telling teams not to draft him so he could attend UNC–Miller is a different story.
The local product out of Millbrook High School in Raleigh came to Chapel Hill as a walk-on, after originally committing to play at UNC-Asheville.
Since then he’s established himself as one of the team’s best hitters and base-stealing threats. Miller led UNC in 2016 with a .345 batting average and 21 stolen bases.
Now, he finds himself among the country’s top 100 college prospects–and has a great chance to elevate himself even further with a big season for the Tar Heels.
UNC is set to open the season in Chapel Hill–likely with Bukauskas on the mound–against Kentucky on Friday, Feb. 17.
For the full list of All-Americans, click here.