After a stellar junior season in Chapel Hill, Tar Heel third baseman/right fielder Mac Horvath was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the second round of the MLB Draft on Sunday, with the 53rd overall pick. Horvath had one of the best offensive seasons in Tar Heel history, with 73 hits, 24 home runs, 66 RBI, 21 doubles, 25 stolen bases, and a .305/.418/.711 slash line, ranking in the ACC’s top ten in home runs, doubles, runs, steals, slugging percentage, OPS, and RBI. He became the second Tar Heel ever with at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases and the first to also hit 20 doubles, and wound up earning a second team All-ACC selection as well as being named to the All-American first team by Perfect Game.
That season capped off a career that sees Horvath as among the program’s all-time leaders in home runs (3rd, with 47) and extra base hits (6th, with 90), but where he really improved from his sophomore to junior seasons was in his ability to hit for average — he improved from a .268 hitter to hitting .305, while taking almost exactly the same amount of free bases. He did strike out more than one would like, but I never felt that his swing-and-misses were hurting his team, and he had a knack for big hits in big moments.
Horvath primarily played third base in his first two years in Chapel Hill, but moved to right field as a junior after working on his speed that offseason. His range and arm both impressed from the outfield, though it took him most of the season to look comfortable playing the position. He filled in at center field and third base at times as well, especially late in the season with starting center fielder Vance Honeycutt sidelined. The Orioles announced him as an outfielder, and that seems likely to be his home in pro ball.
The rest of the MLB Draft will air today and tomorrow starting at 2:00 PM ET, and some Heels present and future might hear their names called. Tar Heel commit Walker Jenkins, the #4 prospect in the country, was drafted 5th by the Minnesota Twins, and Jason DeCaro is a Tar Heel commit in D1Baseball’s Top 150 who could well get drafted early enough to consider skipping college. And the Heels have a few draft-eligible players right now who could get selected in the later rounds, though they don’t have much buzz around them. Regardless of all that, we’re grateful for Horvath’s leadership and excellent play this season and wish him the best as a pro!