Fox has plenty of options in new class

The most talented high school seniors in the world of baseball are faced with an often difficult decision — should they start playing professional baseball right away, or should they attend college first.

“Why would you pick the University of North Carolina?” UNC coach Mike Fox said. “My response to that would be — why wouldn’t you?”

Of the four Tar Heel recruits selected in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft, three of them turned down the big show for Tar Heel blue. Outfielder Skye Bolt, shortstop Landon Lassiter and catcher Korey Dunbar head a class of 17 newcomers to the North Carolina baseball team.

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This is the third of a week-long series previewing the baseball season.
Monday: Infield
Tuesday: Pitching Staff
Today: Freshmen
Thursday: Outfield
Friday: Seton Hall preview

Matt Smoral, a left-handed pitcher, had selected UNC as his college choice before the Blue Jays selected him with the 50th overall pick. The other Tar Heel recruits didn’t go quite as high in the 40-round draft.

North Davidson’s Lassiter was the next UNC recruit selected in the draft as the Diamondbacks picked him the in 16th round. Lassiter played for the same high school and coach as former UNC standout Levi Michael.

North Davidson coach Mike Meadows said last year that Lassiter made plays on the run as well as anyone he’s coached.

“He’s gonna play somewhere … We’ve had him all over the infield, which I like to do,” Fox said. “But he’s got a chance to play (shortstop). If he doesn’t play short, he could play second, he could (be a designated hitter). It’s a good problem for me to have.”

Bolt will be competing for a spot in the outfield. He turned down the Washington Nationals to bring his impressive outfield range to UNC. He’s also, as his name might suggest, pretty fast.

“I think I can add some speed to the outfield,” Bolt said. “I feel like a third role out there (with Chaz Frank and Parks Jordan) could definitely keep the outfield on lock and let as few fly balls reach the ground as possible.”

The only other Tar Heel recruit in the draft, Dunbar, is competing for the starting spot behind the plate.

The class as a whole was ranked by Collegiate Baseball as eighth in the country and has more weapons than just those players who spurned professional baseball.

“We’re really good,” Lassiter said of the freshman class. “We have a lot of power, a lot of speed, a lot of good arms. By the time we get out of here, we’re gonna do a lot of damage and hopefully win a national championship.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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