North Carolina Baseball Preview 2024

Vance Honeycutt to its preseason All-America Third Team. The honor is the second for Honeycutt, who earlier was named to Perfect Game’s preseason All-America team. Honeycutt earned All-ACC honors last season and posted a .910 OPS, 12 home runs, 43 RBI, and was voted ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

The Tar Heels this year will trot out one of the more competitive and deep lineups in the ACC with a mix of returners and transfer portal additions. The main attraction is center fielder Vance Honeycutt. He is one of the best defenders in the country, and while his production took a step back last year, his bat-to-ball skills and swing decisions—two of his bugaboos in 2022—both improved.

 Joining Honeycutt in the outfield are two high-quality pieces in Casey Cook (.317/.428/.415) and Quinnipiac transfer Anthony Donofrio. Donofrio last year was a first-team All-MAAC selection after hitting .364/.432/.684 with 17 doubles, 16 home runs and 31 stolen bases. Not only can Donofrio really go and get it in the outfield, but he also provides an exciting hit-power combination at the dish.

 Blue chip freshman Luke Stevenson is ready to take over for Tomas Frick, who was selected in the 15th-round of the 2023 draft. Stevenson had a loud fall and is a plus defender behind the plate who can also do damage with his bat. Jackson Van De Brake (.307/.439/.486) packs a great glove on the dirt and can hit for average and a bit of power. Patrick Alvarez is also in line to again be a spark plug after hitting .347/.441/.484 with seven extra-base hits across 95 at-bats last year.

 This year’s Tar Heels squad also boasts a wealth of pitching depth with a big loss in the news that UNC senior pitcher Jake Knapp will miss the 2024 season due to a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his throwing arm. However,   a pair of highly-touted freshmen in Folger Boaz and Jason Decaro will also pitch in the weekend rotation. Elon transfer Shea Sprague (7-3, 2.69 ERA) is a pitchability lefty who could also be utilized as a midweek starter or in the back of the weekend rotation. 

There will be a number of weapons in the bullpen as well, with Dalton Pence (4-3, 3.33) taking the reins at closer, Matt Poston (3-3, 1.90 ERA) and Ben Peterson (3-0, 5.40 ERA). That is a trio of talented, experienced arms who know what it takes to win and will be incredibly valuable in the backends of games.


The one thing the team did excel at was coming through in close games, with a 10-4 record in one-run and/or extra innings games. There was also the emergence of some new players who stepped up to make a big impact, such as LHP Dom Fritton, 1B Eli Serrano, DH Cannon Peebles, and SS Kalae Harrison.

UNC’s most notable arms out of high school are Francesco Capocci, Boston Flannery and Olin Johnson.

Capocci, out of Denmark High School in Georgia, tops the slew of new arms coming to campus. Capocci’s fastball settles around 92 to 93 mph and has touched 94, with his body and athleticism hinting towards a higher velocity. 

Flannery — who already debuted a 95 mph fastball — from New York and right-hander Jason DeCaro are just a few more of the arms that will fight for innings. 

Another prospective starting arm for the Tar Heels is Johnson, who ranked No. 201 on’s top prospects for the 2023 draft. The 6-foot-5-inch right-hander has touched 96 with his fastball and possesses an upper 70’s slider and changeup with a high upside.  

Who are the top new faces from the portal?

Along with the incoming first-years, the Diamond Heels have also nabbed talented transfers in corner infielder Parks Harber and left-handed pitcher Shea Sprague. Harber and Sprague were named to D1 Baseball’s Top Impact Transfers list at No. 44 and No. 51, respectively. 

Harber started 53 games for Georgia last season and ranked second on the team with 18 homers while slashing .283/.342/.575 and knocking in 56 RBIs. The infielder from Atlanta will add an experienced bat and corner infield mobility.

Sprague, on the other hand, will jump into a pitching staff that lost veteran Max Carlson and struggled to get quality starts across the previous season. The former Elon standout recorded a 2.69 ERA over 90.1 innings pitched and doled out 82 strikeouts last season.

The Tar Heels also added transfers Eliot Dix, an infielder from Longwood University, and speedy graduate transfer outfielder Anthony Donofrio.

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