Earlier we talked about where several Diamond Heels were going to be spending their summer, honing their skills, but there was one name conspicuously missing: Vance Honeycutt
Vance rose out of seemingly nowhere to become one of the top players in the ACC, and was THE guy to watch in the postseason for Carolina, going so far as to secure MVP of the ACC Baseball Championship, and being named to several Division 1 All-American teams. The accolades were well-earned, as was a final honor for Vance this season: a chance to play for USA Baseball
Honeycutt was one of about 50 invites to the National Collegiate Training Camp, where players from all across the country are invited to train, scrimmage against each other, and earn the right to move on to Honkbalweek Haarlem in the Netherlands. Honkbalweek is a bi-annual international baseball tournament, the closest that USA Baseball can get to an international competition outside of the Olympics since there is no World Cup of Baseball like in other sports.
The set up for the Training Camp is different than playing in other summer leagues. The players work together at USA Baseball’s facilities down in Cary before splitting up into two squads. The two squads then faced off against each other for five games before USA Baseball decided to cull the roster down to 26. One game was at the complex in Cary, then three games were at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, with the final game happening at Truist Park in Charlotte.
Honeycutt ended up playing for Team Stripes as they faced off against Team Stars, and, well, he didn’t have a great series. Team Stripes only won one out of the five games, and in them Honeycutt finished with a .063 average, only collecting one hit in sixteen at bats. He did draw two walks, but struck out seven times, and hit into a double play. That said, of the three times he was on base, he managed to go two for two in stealing a base, showcasing the speed we knew in Chapel Hill. He was perfect in the field, catching all nine attempts and assisting one one, for a 1.000 fielding percentage.
In short, his defense and his speed were on display, but he clearly grew impatient as the series went on, going so far as going 0-4 with three strikeouts in the leadoff spot his last game Monday in Charlotte.
The experience was surely beneficial for Honeycutt, going up against some of the best in the game and realizing where the holes in his game still are as he looks to take on a starring role for the Tar Heels next year. As one can expect with that rough stat line, Honeycutt did not advance to the National Team that’ll play in The Netherlands.
Prior to being named to the National Team Training Camp, Honeycutt was assigned to the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod Baseball League, along with teammates Mac Horvath and Brandon Schaeffer. It’s unknown if he’ll join Bourne as the Cape Cod League still has about a month left of games, and Bourne specifically has a game in Polar Park, home of the Worcester Red Sox, the new AAA home of the Boston Red Sox. It’d be understandable if Honeycutt wanted to enjoy some part of his summer before the new school year, but the opportunity to atone for the USA experience as well as play with a wood bat in a minor league park may be too much to pass up. We’ll see what he decides to do.