Early-season watch list candidates for the Golden Spikes Award–the honor for the top amateur baseball player in the country–were announced last Friday by USA Baseball, with UNC sophomore starting pitcher Gianluca Dalatri making the cut.

A 6-foot-6-inch, imposing physical presence on the mound, Dalatri immediately established himself as the Tar Heels No. 2 starting option last season behind first-round MLB Draft pick JB Bukauskas.

The New Jersey native had a career-high 15 strikeouts against Radford in just his second collegiate start, and went on to finish the year with a 7-3 record and a 3.34 ERA–while showcasing his control by compiling 85 strikeouts compared to just 19 walks.

Dalatri will be the Tar Heels’ top pitching option in 2018, as he looks to help the team repeat as ACC Coastal Division champions and improve upon his experience with the U.S. Collegiate National Team this past summer.

He’ll have until April 10 to find out if he makes the cut for the Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List. Fans will get to vote players onto that list from March 26-April 1.

The winner of the 41st annual Golden Spikes Award will be formally announced on June 28 at a presentation in Los Angeles.

UNC begins its season this Friday, Feb. 16 on the road against South Florida, with Dalatri on the mound for the opener of the three-game series.

For the full Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list, click here.



Photo via Jeffrey A. Camarati (UNC Athletics)