UNC Baseball Receives Commits From Six of Top 500 High Schoolers

With a draft that lasts for 40 rounds and numerous minor league franchises, it’s common for the MLB to have hundreds of high school baseball players who decide to bypass college and go straight into their professional careers.

Following this year’s draft, only 127 of Baseball America’s top 500 high school prospects chose to attend school–where they will be forced to spend at least three years before their next shot at the pros.

Of that group of 127, UNC will have six of them arriving in Chapel Hill next season. Only Mississippi, with seven, had more commitments.

It’s unclear how much the young players–five of whom are right-handed pitchers–will fit in with the current roster.

JB Bukauskas is expected to lead a UNC pitching staff heavy on right-handers in 2017. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

JB Bukauskas is expected to lead a UNC pitching staff heavy on right-handers in 2017. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

As it stands, the Tar Heels’ current strength lies in its pitching–especially its right-handers–with power hitting being the team’s biggest need.

The highest-ranked player in the UNC haul is Tyler Baum, a slender 6-foot-2-inch righty out of West Orange High School in Ocoee, Florida.

Baum is joined by fellow pitchers Austin Bergner (No. 165), Luca Dalatri (No. 174), Robbie Peto (No. 179) and Bo Weiss (No. 189).

Weiss is the son of former Tar Heel great and major league shortstop Walt Weiss, the current manager of the Colorado Rockies.

The five hurlers will be accompanied to campus by No. 208 on the list–catcher Brandon Martorano.

When they arrive at Boshamer Stadium, they’ll represent the final recruiting class under former assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Scott Jackson.

Jackson accepted the head coaching job at Liberty earlier this week.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-baseball-receives-commits-from-six-of-top-500-high-schoolers

UNC Baseball Assistant Scott Jackson Named Head Coach at Liberty

The home dugout at Boshamer Stadium is set to undergo the biggest facelift it’s had since 2008.

For nearly a decade, the Diamond Heels’ coaching staff led by Mike Fox, Scott Jackson and Scott Forbes has been a constant while the UNC baseball program reached heights it had never previously seen.

Now, after the Tar Heels have missed out on two consecutive NCAA Tournaments, a new era is set to begin–as Liberty University reached an agreement this past weekend to hire Jackson as its new head coach.

Jackson has also been the recruiting coordinator for UNC, on top of all his coaching duties. (LibertyFlamesNation.com)

Jackson has also been the recruiting coordinator for UNC, on top of all his coaching duties. (LibertyFlamesNation.com)

After helping the Tar Heels reach six NCAA Tournaments and three College World Series appearances, Jackson was recognized by Baseball America as one of the nation’s top assistants prior to the 2013 season in which UNC won a school-record 59 games.

Jackson also had the duty of being the recruiting coordinator on Fox’s staff–helping to bring in future major league talent like Kyle Seager (Seattle Mariners) and Colin Moran (Houston Astros).

“I am thrilled for Scott to take this next step in his coaching career,” Fox said, in a statement released by UNC. “He is a tireless worker who will do a fantastic job at Liberty. He has helped lift our program to another level since joining the staff in 2008, and we will miss him in Chapel Hill.

“I wish Scott, his wife Sara, and their boys Ryan and Tyler nothing but the best moving forward. Liberty is getting a coach and a family that will represent the university with total class.”

The news comes after Liberty’s former head coach, Jim Toman, stepped down after his ninth season at the helm.

One year prior to joining the staff at UNC, Jackson was the pitching coach under Toman at Liberty.

He has also had coaching stints at his alma mater, Campbell, as well as UNC-Wilmington, Wofford and Barton.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-baseball-assistant-scott-jackson-named-head-coach-at-liberty

Former UNC Pitcher Andrew Miller Named to All-Star Roster

Former UNC pitcher Andrew Miller has been named to the American League All-Star team, which was announced Wednesday.

The tall left-hander is 5-1 on the season for the New York Yankees. Miller has a 1.47 ERA and seven saves in 2016. Miller has recorded 66 strikeouts in just 36.2 innings of work.

Miller was one of three Yankees chosen for the game.

Miller led UNC to the College World Series in 2006 and was named the National Pitcher of the Year.

Miller spoke with MLB.com following the All-Star announcement:

“It’s one of those things you dream about getting an opportunity to do. You try to make the All-Star team, starting in Little League all the way up. To do it at this level is something special. Fortunately, I’ve been able to put together a couple of good months here to start the season, and I’m just looking forward to it.”

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is slated for July 12 at Petco Park in San Diego.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/professional/former-unc-pitcher-andrew-miller-named-star-roster

Pittsburgh Pirates Call Jacob Stallings Up to the Majors

The Pittsburgh Pirates gave the UNC baseball program yet another major leaguer this past weekend, when they called up former Tar Heel catcher Jacob Stallings to start behind the plate on Sunday.

He became the second UNC player to make a big league debut in 2016, after Colin Moran was brought up by the Houston Astros back in May.

Ten different former UNC players–including Colorado Rockies manager Walt Weiss–have made appearances in the majors this season.

Although Stallings went 0-for-4 against the NL Central division-leading Chicago Cubs in his first game, his collegiate head coach, Mike Fox, has long praised the 26-year-old’s superior work ethic.

The son of Pittsburgh head men’s basketball coach Kevin Stallings, he was drafted by the Pirates in the seventh round of the 2012 draft.

His selection came after helping the Tar Heels reach the College World Series twice during his four-year college career–while being named Second Team All-ACC, and leading the team with 42 RBIs in his senior year as UNC finished 46-16 and hosted the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional.

In his four years as a Tar Heel, Stallings’ teams posted an incredible record of 183-72.

List of Tar Heels in the MLB in 2016:

SP Matt Harvey – New York Mets

3B Kyle Seager- Seattle Mariners

LF Dustin Ackley- New York Yankees

C Tim Federowicz-Chicago Cubs

C Chris Iannetta- Seattle Mariners

SP Adam Warren- Chicago Cubs

3B Colin Moran- Houston Astros

RP Mike Morin- Los Angeles Angels

RP Andrew Miller- New York Yankees

 

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/pittsburgh-pirates-call-up-jacob-stallings-to-the-majors

UNC Pitcher Named First-Team All-Region

UNC right handed pitcher JB Bukauskas has been named to the ABCA/Rawlings Atlantic All-Region First Team, the organization announced this week.

The sophomore is the first Tar Heel to earn first-team all-region honors since Kent Emanuel and Colin Moran were first-team selections in 2013.

Bukauskas struck out an Atlantic Coast Conference-best 111 batters over his 13 regular season starts and a 3.10 ERA in 78.1 innings of work. During ACC play, Bukauskas went 6-2 with a 2.45 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 66 innings.

Bukauskas also struck out eight in an opening night start for Chatham in the Cape Cod League and will join the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team later this summer.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-pitcher-named-first-team-all-region

MLB Draft Closes with Six Tar Heels Chosen

The three-day, 40-round marathon that is the MLB Draft finally came to an end Saturday evening–with three more Tar Heels finding out their next destinations.

Junior relievers Zach Rice and Spencer Trayner–as well as sophomore infielder Ryder Ryan–joined teammates Zac Gallen, Tyler Ramirez and AJ Bogucki in receiving the opportunity to enter the professional ranks.

A 6-foot-2 lefty with a deceptive delivery, Rice was selected in the 18th round (529th overall) by the Atlanta Braves.

Spencer Trayner has been a go-to reliever for UNC head coach Mike Fox for each of the last three seasons. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

Spencer Trayner has been a go-to reliever for UNC head coach Mike Fox for each of the last three seasons. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

The Suffolk, Virginia native made 64 career appearances in relief–including 34 in his freshman season–but saw his playing time decrease each year as he struggled to find consistency with his pitch command.

In 2016, he pitched a total of just 3.2 innings and allowed 11 of the 22 batters he faced to reach base. By the end of the season, though, he was no longer on the team’s roster–which is likely the reason why UNC has not recognized Rice’s selection.

Next to be chosen was Trayner, a 6-foot righty out of Tampa, Florida.

The St. Louis Cardinals took him in the 25th round (766th overall), making him their second Tar Heel pitcher selected this year after choosing Gallen in the third round.

A bullpen workhorse for each of his three seasons in Chapel Hill, Trayner has a total of 85 relief appearances with a career ERA of 2.67.

The MLB rulebook currently holds that a player may sign with a pro team straight out of high school, but must attend college for at least three years before becoming draft-eligible again.

Ryder Ryan was drafted by the Cleveland Indians for the second time in his career after struggling his first two years in Chapel Hill. (UNC Athletics)

Ryder Ryan was drafted by the Cleveland Indians for the second time in his career after struggling his first two years in Chapel Hill. (UNC Athletics)

Despite being a sophomore, Ryder Ryan was eligible by virtue of being 21-years-old before the start of the draft–one of the handful of different exceptions to the rule.

When the Cleveland Indians drafted Ryan in the 30th round (902nd overall), it marked the second time the organization has picked him.

A once highly-touted recruit, Ryan was a 40th-round choice by the Indians in 2014 coming out of North Mecklenburg High School–where he hit .536 with six home runs in his senior year.

Since arriving at UNC, however, he’s seen the field in just 33 games–making only six starts as a fill-in at catcher and first base. In that time, he tallied just eight hits across 40 at-bats.

Each of the six Tar Heel draftees can now negotiate a contract with the club that drafted them–or make the decision to return to school and play out their remaining eligibility.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/mlb-draft-closes-with-six-tar-heels-chosen

Wilson, Trio of Tar Heels Selected on MLB Draft’s Second Day

After years of tireless work and practice, lifelong dreams became reality for four local baseball stars Friday during the second day of the MLB Draft.

The first to hear his name called was UNC junior right-handed pitcher Zac Gallen–the Tar Heels unquestioned ace since becoming the Friday starter at the beginning of 2015.

Bryse Wilson of Orange High School was chosen in the fourth round of the MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves, and now must decide whether to go pro or attend UNC for at least the next three years. (Photo via Twitter/@BryseWilson)

Bryse Wilson of Orange High School was chosen in the fourth round of the MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves–and now must decide whether to go pro, or attend UNC for at least the next three years. (Photo via Twitter/@BryseWilson)

He’ll be joining the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization after the team chose him with the final pick of the third round (106th overall).

Despite a fastball that typically tops out around 91 mph, Gallen used his pinpoint accuracy to help post a 2.73 ERA with 169 strikeouts across 174.2 innings over the last two seasons.

Orange High School’s Bryse Wilson–a 6-foot-1-inch, 224 pound righty–was selected shortly after by the Atlanta Braves in the fourth round (109th overall).

Just last month, the UNC commit–who was named Big 8 Pitcher of the Year for his standout season–tossed a perfect game against Eastern Wayne in the first round of the NCHSAA 3A playoffs.

Tyler Ramirez, who played center field last season for the Tar Heels, will join UNC’s previous center fielder–Skye Bolt–in the Oakland Athletics farm system after being taken in the seventh round (202nd overall).

Although scouts are wary of his 5-foot-9 frame, Ramirez has provided the Tar Heels a steadying force in the outfield throughout his career–moving over to center in 2016 after starting in right field the year before.

Tyler Ramirez made a number of spectacular plays for UNC throughout the year, his best in a Tar Heel uniform. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

Tyler Ramirez made a number of spectacular plays for UNC throughout the year, his best in a Tar Heel uniform. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

He has also been UNC’s most consistent hitter in recent years, hitting .299 for his career as a three-year starter. On top of that, Ramirez was at the top of the team leaderboards in home runs and slugging percentage in 2015 and 2016

Rounding out the day was UNC relief pitcher AJ Bogucki.

The Washington Nationals chose the 6-foot-3 Pennsylvania native in the eighth round (244th overall) after he posted a 2.86 ERA in 28 appearances out of the bullpen last year.

It was easily Bogucki’s most consistent collegiate season after spending each of his first two seasons alternating between mid-week starts and the occasional relief stint here and there.

Rounds 11-40 of the draft will take place on Saturday, with a few more draft-eligible Tar Heels still waiting patiently to find out what the future has in store for them.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/gallen-ramirez-and-wilson-selected-on-mlb-drafts-second-day

Former Tar Heels Funding Boshamer Stadium Improvement Project

Boshamer Stadium, the home of the Diamond Heels, will be getting a little makeover this summer.

Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager and Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Adam Warren are working with a few other donors to help build an additional 1,300 square feet of usable space for the UNC baseball program along the first base side of the premises.

A multi-use space able to serve as a visiting locker room, or a place for team meetings and studying, headlines the project–while new locker room space for umpires and former players who choose to workout in Chapel Hill during the offseason will also be built.

Kyle Seager has gone on to great success in the major leagues since leaving UNC after his junior year in 2009. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Kyle Seager has gone on to great success in the major leagues since leaving UNC after his junior year in 2009. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The construction is slated to begin later this summer, but is expected to be completed before the beginning of the 2017 season.

“I am especially grateful to our former players – including lead donor Vaughn Bryson – and the tremendous supporters of Carolina baseball for their funding of this project,” UNC head coach Mike Fox said, in a statement released by the university. “This improvement will ensure that Boshamer Stadium continues to be one of the nation’s finest facilities for college baseball.

“I am humbled by the generosity of all those who have helped make this project a reality,” the coach added. “Their continued support of the program is greatly appreciated.”

Seager, an MLB All-Star and Gold Glove award winner in 2014, was a standout for Coach Fox from 2007-2009 in Chapel Hill. In 2008, he set the school record for doubles in a season with 30, on his way to being named a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist.

“The three years I spent at Carolina helped turn me into the player and man I am today,” Seager said. “Having a chance to practice and play in the newly renovated Boshamer Stadium was a big part of my UNC experience, and I am excited to have the opportunity to help improve the Carolina baseball experience for Tar Heels who will compete for championships in the future.”

Adam Warren was a four-year player in Chapel Hill, who has spent time with both the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs. (Getty Images)

Adam Warren was a four-year player in Chapel Hill, who has spent time with both the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs. (Getty Images)

Warren pitched for four years at UNC, including a sophomore season in 2007 where he went 12-0 with a 2.17 ERA.

He reached the major leagues in 2012 with the New York Yankees, playing there for the next four seasons before a trade this past December sent him to Chicago to become a Cub.

“I am and have always been proud to be a Tar Heel, so when I was presented with the opportunity to support the new Boshamer project, it was a no-brainer for me,” Warren said. “Carolina baseball is one of the premier programs in the nation, and the players and coaches deserve top-notch facilities to go along with the product they are putting on the field.

“I am excited to see this project help lead to many more trips to Omaha and a national championship.”

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/former-tar-heels-funding-boshamer-stadium-improvement-project

Bukauskas Selected to USA Baseball Collegiate National Team

After a breakout sophomore season where he led the ACC with 111 strikeouts, UNC right-hander JB Bukauskas was invited this week to join the 2016 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.

He becomes the 27th Tar Heel all-time to represent the school as part of a U.S. national squad–and first since Skye Bolt in 2013.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity to play for our country this summer,” Bukauskas said. “I’m extremely excited to help the team in whatever way possible and am looking forward to getting started.”

The native of Ashburn, Virginia possesses a fastball that can reach as high as 97 mph, as well as a devastating 88 mph slider that showed massive improvement in 2016.

Bukauskas improved a great deal from his freshman to sophomore year, showing off a slider in 2016 that was nowhere near as effective in 2015. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

Bukauskas improved a great deal from his freshman to sophomore year, showing off a slider in 2016 that was nowhere near as effective in 2015. (Joe Bray/ UNC Athletics)

In conference play–where he started 10 games against top-level ACC hitters–opponents hit just .223 against him.

Relying heavily on just those two pitches, Bukauskas also led UNC with a 7-2 record as the Saturday starter and was named Second Team All-ACC.

These accomplishments helped establish him as one of the top power pitchers in the country.

Now he’ll get a chance to prove that statement this summer against some of the best competition the world has to offer.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for J.B. and I have no doubt that he will be an outstanding addition to the Collegiate National Team,” Carolina head coach Mike Fox said. “Getting to represent the United States in international competition is an incredible opportunity and I know J.B. will handle himself with nothing but class.”

After training in Southern California, the team will travel to play three international friendship series with Chinese Taipei (July 5-9), Japan (July 12-17) and Cuba (July 23-27).

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/bukauskas-selected-to-usa-baseball-collegiate-national-team

UNC Baseball Misses NCAA Tournament For Second Straight Year

The NCAA Baseball Tournament announced its field of 64 teams Monday afternoon, and yet again head coach Mike Fox and the Tar Heels found themselves on the outside looking in.

Prior to last season, UNC had made the tournament in 14 straight years–notching six trips to the College World Series during that streak.

Once a fixture in June, the Tar Heels have now had their season ended prematurely in consecutive years for the first time since 1996-97.

Despite boasting a solid 34-21 record and an RPI ranking of 19–the highest to miss the tournament–UNC was deemed the “first team out” by the NCAA Selection Committee.

The Tar Heels began the year 18-2, and were ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation earlier in the season according to some polls.

As the schedule got tougher, though, the offense slipped off a bit.

That late-season hitting swoon ultimately cost UNC a spot in the 10-team ACC Tournament–which was likely the final nail in its coffin.

Had the Tar Heels won one more ACC game, they would have qualified for the event.

Each of the 10 teams that played in Durham this past week were included in the field, giving the ACC a record-tying number of entries for one conference.

That seemed to be the deciding factor, as UNC was left out in favor of teams such as Duke and Boston College.

In their regular season series, the Tar Heels swept the Blue Devils in Durham–but with a stronger finish to the year Duke was selected for its first NCAA Tournament since 1961.

Boston College (31-20, 39th in the RPI) played its way into the ACC Tournament with a pair of wins on the final day of the regular season–earning the conference’s final at-large birth.

For the second week in a row, the Eagles–who didn’t play the Tar Heels this year–made it into the postseason at UNC’s expense.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-baseball-misses-ncaa-tournament-for-second-straight-year