#22 North Carolina Baseball 2017 Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels
Overall Rank: #22
Conference Rank: #6 ACC
North Carolina had a disappointing 2016 campaign, but that was a young team. And it was a team that won 34 games and was not far off from making the NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels boasted a team ERA of 3.16, ranking 13th in the country. Zac Gallen, who had a 2.68 ERA in 13 starts, was a huge reason for that, but he is the only key pitcher lost. UNC will rely on experienced starters J.B. Bukauskas and Jason Morgan and a handful of very good freshmen.
2016: 34-21, 13-17
2016 Postseason: None
Coach: Mike Fox
Key Departed Players:
Zac Gallen, P, 2.68 ERA, 90.2 IP, 95 SO
Tyler Ramirez, .333 BA, 8 HR, 47 RBI
Key Returning Players:
J.B. Bukauskas, P, 3.10 ERA, 78.1 IP, 111 SO
Jason Morgan, P, 4.10 ERA, 63.2 IP, 47 SO
Brian Miller, OF/1B, .345 BA, 2 HR, 33 RBI
Logan Warmoth, SS, .337 BA, 4 HR, 53 RBI
Zack Gahagan, IF, .297 BA, 5 HR, 34 RBI
Brandon Riley, OF, .294 BA, 1 HR, 35 RBI
Adam Pate, OF, .285 BA, 0 HR, 22 RBI
Even without Gallen, the North Carolina pitching staff is in very good shape. The issue is at the plate where the Tar Heels lacked a lot of power. The best power hitter, Tyler Ramirez, is gone too. The good news is that juniors Logan Warmoth and Zack Gahagan are ready to step up. Last season Warmoth hit .337 with four homeruns and a team high 53 RBIs. Gahagan belted five homeruns with 34 RBIs. The team as a whole will do a fine job of getting on base with players like Brian Miller, Brandon Riley and Adam Pate returning, but somebody besides Warmoth and Gahagan needs to consistently drive in those players who are on base. If UNC had timelier hitting last season, they would have made the NCAA Tournament. This time around they should be able to get it. With all of the talented options on the mound, the experience at the plate could lead to a very good season for North Carolina.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Madness 2017 Draft Rankings:
#6 JB Bukauskas
#77 Jason Morgan
#81 Brian Miller
#96 Logan Warmoth