Photo courtesy Kerry Sheehan-Delany and the Chatham Anglers
After the 2017 baseball season came to an unexpected close, the North Carolina baseball players went their separate ways — for the summer, at least.
Here is a complete list and recap of how the returning Tar Heels fared this summer.
College National Team
Gianluca Dalatri, USA Baseball Collegiate National Team
Summer outing: Dalatri was solid, starting three times for Team USA this summer. He allowed four earned runs and struck out 10 in 11 innings.
Spring outlook: Dalatri will be the resident Tar Heel ace next season, filling the void left by J.B. Bukauskas, who was drafted by the Houston Astros in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft.
Cape Cod Baseball League
Austin Bergner, Chatham Anglers
Summer outing: The upcoming sophomore has been electric this summer, holding opponents to a 1.16 ERA in 31 innings of work. His 30 strikeouts to 11 walks are also a good sign. He induced considerable amounts of swings and misses, keeping hitters off balance with his progressing curveball.
Spring outlook: Bergner will look to push into the UNC weekend rotation next spring. His likely spot is Sunday, following Dalatri and rising sophomore Tyler Baum.
video via Shawn McFarland, Baseball America
Rodney Hutchison Jr., Chatham Anglers
Summer outing: Another Angler, Hutchison was incredible this summer. The big righthander held opponents to a .71 ERA across 25.1 innings of work.
Spring outlook: Hutch figures to be a main contributor out of the bullpen in the coming season. He'll get a shot to improve upon his 4.14 ERA in 31 appearances this past season.
Ashton McGee, Chatham Anglers
Summer outing: McGee had a tough summer, finishing the summer with a .141 average across 71 at-bats. Still very young, McGee will look to work out these kinks heading into next spring.
Spring outlook: McGee will be a focal point of the UNC offense next spring. Remember, he should have just graduated high school had he not enrolled early at UNC. He’ll be fine long-term. He worked primarily at second base this summer, which is something to keep an eye on with Zack Gahagan and Kyle Datres both returning.
Cody Roberts, Chatham Anglers
Summer outing: Roberts also took his lumps, hitting .151 this summer. Per usual, he showed off his electric arm from behind the plate.
Spring outlook: Roberts is a defensive-minded catcher with a streaky bat — remember how he turned it on during that blazing stretch at the end of 2017? If his bat starts off slow, however, it will be interesting to see how he is utilized for UNC considering he was taken by the Miami Marlins in the 38th round of the draft as a pitcher.
Tyler Baum, Harwich Mariners
Summer outing: Baum put on a show this summer, compiling a 5-1 record in seven starts. His win total, strikeouts (41) and ERA of 2.72 all ranked first among qualified pitchers in the Cape League.
Spring outlook: Along with Bergner and Dalatri, Baum will be pushing into the weekend. If I had to guess right now, it would be Friday-Dalatri, Saturday-Baum and Sunday-Bergner. But there is a long way to go before the season.
Cole Aker, Harwich Mariners
Summer outing: Aker was solid for the Mariners this summer, logging 23.1 over 12 appearances — including one start. He had some control issues, walking 21, but he did strike out 26.
Spring outlook: Aker will factor into the Tar Heels' bullpen next spring, but it will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds.
Brett Daniels, Orleans Firebirds
Summer outing: Daniels was solid with a 3.76 ERA over 28.2 innings of work. He was clutch in Game One of the Eastern Division Finals, going six innings, striking out eight with no walks in the Firebirds' first-round win.
Spring outlook: Daniels will primarily be a weekend bullpen arm for UNC, evidenced by his three starts to 10 relief appearances this summer. His ability to both start and come in relief makes him a valuable arm to have.
Josh Hiatt, Orleans Firebirds
Summer outing: As usual, Hiatt was dazzling. He spun 26 strikeouts in 23 innings, had 18 relief appearances and six saves and finished with a 2.73 ERA. Business as usual for the workhorse reliever.
Spring outlook: He’s the anchor of the bullpen. Look for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year finalist to close yet again.
Brandon Riley, Orleans Firebirds
Summer outing: Riley hit .254 this summer, but he had a .366 on-base percentage.
Spring outlook: As a sophomore, Riley cemented himself into the lineup in 2017. Look for Riley to be a large part of UNC’s lineup next spring.
Taylor Sugg, Orleans Firebirds
Summer outing: Sugg had a solid start in Game Three of the Finals, giving up one run over five innings. He had his share of struggles this summer, but he turned in a great outing in the clutch. Nine of his 11 outings came with two or fewer runs against, so he had an overall good summer save for a few rough outings.
Spring outlook: Sugg posted a 1.95 ERA in 27.2 innings in 2017 for UNC. He'll likely continue his role as a middle innings guy on the weekends in 2018.
Robbie Peto, Falmoth Commodores
Summer outing: This summer was a learning curve for Peto. He compiled a 7.36 ERA, but he showed flashes of greatness, most notably his four innings of one run (unearned) work on July 4.
Spring outlook: He’ll look to find a spot, likely in midweek games at first, before striving for some weekend runtime.
Kyle Datres, Brewster Whitecaps
Summer outing: Can you say Mr. August? Datres hit .225 with one home run during the regular season, but he really turned it on for the playoffs. Datres hit .257 with two home runs in the playoffs, including a big blow in the Eastern finals — a solo home run off Sugg — helping the Whitecaps to the Cape League crown.
video via Brewster Whitecaps twitter @WhitecapsCCBL
Spring outlook: With his sharp defensive utility and run production — he finished second on the 2017 team in RBIs with 51 — Datres will be a mainstay in the lineup.
Zack Gahagan, Brewster Whitecaps
Summer outing: Gahagan struggled at the plate this summer, but he played well defensively, logging time at both first and second.
Spring outlook: Gahagan will begin his fourth year as a UNC starter in 2018, which says enough about his consistency, and utility for the Tar Heels.
Coastal Plain League
Jake Holtzapple, Wilson Tobs
Summer outing: Holtzapple hit .329 with a .400 OBP this summer. He got hot down the stretch, earning more regular time for the Tobs.
Spring outlook: An infielder, Holtzapple could be beneficial depth in 2018.
Josh Ladowski, Wilson Tobs
Summer outing: Ladowski hit .280 while showing off his wheels on the basepaths, going 11-for-14 on stolen-base attempts.
Spring outlook: Ladowski played well in limited time in 2017, and will look to earn more in 2018. He's in the mix to fill the vacancy left by Tyler Lynn, and the No. 36 pick in the draft, Brian Miller.
Ike Freeman, High Point-Thomasville HiToms
Summer outing: Freeman struggled a bit this summer, but he logged 112 at-bats and made some adjustments throughout.
Spring outlook: He has the ability to play shortstop, or second base which puts him in the mix to get some reps up the middle next spring.
Utah Jones, Savannah Bananas
Summer outing: Jones hit .252 this summer and added 14 RBIs and five steals.
Spring outlook: Is a natural shortstop, and got a ton of reps at there this summer, placing him firmly in the conversation to fill the void left by Logan Warmoth — No. 22 overall pick in MLB draft — next season.
New England Collegiate Baseball League
Teddy Sabato, Danbury Westerners
Summer outing: Sabato had a tough summer, but he made improvements. Twelve of his 18 earned runs were across two games; aside from those two outings he held a 3.58 ERA over 15.1 innings.
Spring outlook: Sabato will look to make a splash in 2018.
Brandon Martorano, Plymouth Pilgrims
Summer outing: He didn’t hit for average, but Martorano did have six home runs in 67 at-bats this summer. He also added 24 RBIs.
Spring outlook: He’ll get reps at catcher and designated hitter next spring. His and Dalatri’s connection — high school teammates — gives him a chance to be the Friday night catcher.
Michael Busch, St. Cloud Rox
Summer outing: Busch hit .291 with four home runs this summer. His 37 walks to 29 strikeouts was excellent.
Spring outlook: He hit the ball hard last spring, but it didn’t always fall in. Look for Busch to be safely placed in the heart of the order in 2018.
Brendan Illies, St. Cloud Rox
Summer outing: Illies hit .267 with a 14 walk to 13 strikeout rate.
Spring outlook: Listed at catcher, Illies puts a flyer in the mix if Martorano and Roberts can’t get it done at the plate.
California Collegiate League
Aaron Greenfield, Orange County Riptide
Summer outing: Greenfield had a learning summer at the plate, hitting .224 over 85 at bats. However, he led his summer team in walks, showing off solid plate discipline.
Spring outlook: The upcoming sophomore will look to play himself into the outfield mix for the Tar Heels.
Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League
Zach Attianese, Baltimore Redbirds
Summer outing: Attianese worked a 1.31 ERA over 34.1 innings in the regular season, along with a 2.07 ERA in the playoffs. He struck out 44 over a combined 43 innings.
Spring outlook: As a freshman, he saw very limited action in spring of 2017. But he can build off this summer momentum into the fall world series.
Evan Odum, Baltimore Redbirds
Summer outing: Odum compiled a 5-2 record over across 13 games with a 2.66 ERA during the regular season.
Spring outlook: Odum pitched one game in 2017 vs. Radford, and he got roughed up a bit. He made strides this summer and will compete for a spot in the Tar Heel pitching arsenal.
Laney Orr, Baltimore Redbirds
Summer outing: Orr hit .300 over 90 at-bats in summer season. He primarily played outfielder, but has the ability to play elsewhere.
Spring outlook: Listed as an outfielder now, Orr came into college as the No. 1 third baseman in the state of North Carolina. It will be interesting to see where he fits in and if he plays himself into a spot.
Bo Weiss, Baltimore Red Birds
Summer outing: Weiss had a rough start to the summer, but he progressed throughout. His efforts culminated with solid outing in the League Championship Series.
Spring outlook: Weiss was decent for the Tar Heels over 16.2 innings in 2017. He'll look to gain more mound time in 2018.