There have been many former North Carolina Diamond Heels to go onto professional baseball, however, there are very few who have had successful major league careers. We might actually be in the middle of a renaissance with 10 Tar Heel alumni currently in the pros. Here are the players who had the best seasons in 2016.
1.45 ERA, 14.89 K/9, 74.1 IP
A starting pitcher with the Tar Heels between 2004 and 2006, Miller eventually found success in the bullpen. He very clearly had the best season of the group as he utterly dominated hitters all season long. After starting the year with the New York Yankees, the six-foot-six left-hander was traded to a Cleveland Indians team that was headed toward the playoffs. Used in a variety of roles out of the bullpen, he almost singlehandedly carried the team’s pitching staff through the postseason. The magical run ended with a loss in Game 7 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs.
.278/.359/.499, 30 HR, 99 RBI
UNC’s former third baseman from 2007 to 2009, Seager had his best season in 2016. He posted career highs in home runs, RBI, walks, and hits, though he still somehow wasn’t named to the All-Star Game. I guess it’s tough when you’re sitting behind Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, and Adrian Beltre. His contributions couldn’t get the Seattle Mariners to the playoffs, but they wouldn’t have been as close as they were without him.
4.68 ERA, 65.1 IP
Warren spent four years with the Tar Heels between 2006 and 2009 before he was drafted by the Yankees. Used as a starter throughout his minor league career, he proved to be a valuable piece in the rotation and the bullpen. After three seasons of success in New York, he was traded to the Cubs in the offseason for Starlin Castro. His brief career in Chicago proved to be disastrous before the Yankees brought him back in the Aroldis Chapman trade. Warren then managed to bring his ERA down to a respectable level.
The Tar Heels were also represented by reliever Mike Morin, third baseman Colin Moran, and catchers Tim Federowicz, Jacob Stallings, and Chris Iannetta. It wasn’t all good, though. Some had the ugliest seasons possible. Starting pitcher Matt Harvey had an awful time this year, struggling mightily on the mound before undergoing surgery to relieve Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Second baseman/first baseman/right fielder Dustin Ackley struggled in the early goings of the season before going down with a torn shoulder labrum.