Maryland outfielder Marty Costes (Maryland Athletics)

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Prospect Rundown: Cal Ripken League

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This is an important summer for North Carolina. The Tar Heels have been one of college baseball’s best programs over the past dozen years — no other program can match their six trips to Omaha during that span — but they have missed regionals in back-to-back seasons, and now they must replace recruiting coordinator Scott Jackson, who took the head coaching job at Liberty. UNC desperately needs to reverse its negative momentum and reaffirm its position as a national power, which means its returning players need to get better. And this summer, that is just what several of them have done.

Ace J.B. Bukauskas has shined for Team USA. Shortstop Logan Warmoth has been a standout in the Cape Cod League, as Frankie Piliere wrote earlier this week. And several Tar Heels have excelled for the best team in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League, the Baltimore Redbirds (28-11).

For starters, rising sophomore infielder Kyle Datres is the Ripken League batting leader (.368) and also has a league-best 21 stolen bases in 23 tries. Datres was one of the most important pieces in UNC’s 2015 recruiting class, a two-way talent with athleticism, arm strength and a nice righthanded swing. An arm injury prevented him from pitching as a freshman this spring, but he did play almost every game as a position player (primarily third base). He hit just .250 in the spring with 11 extra-base hits in 152 at-bats, so his summer represents a significant step forward.


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