CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--Every Friday night this season, North Carolina shortstop Logan Warmoth takes a backseat to junior righthander J.B. Bukauskas.
It's not a big deal to occasionally fall in Bukauskas' shadow. He's been one of the most impressive college arms in the 2017 draft class, showcasing his mid-to-upper 90s fastball and his double-plus slider regularly, with the results to back it up.
Besides, Warmoth's gotten the better of his teammate before.
"Those intersquads in the preseason weren't all that much fun," Bukauskas said in April. "I remember once where he hit a home run and then I walked him a couple times. He's a tough at-bat."
On top of that, Warmoth has had somewhat of breakout season offensively, hitting .330/.403/.541, with a team-leading seven home runs.
Projected to go in the back end of the first round or soon after, Warmoth is fine with Bukauskas--currently our No. 7 draft prospect--drawing the eyes of scouts and fans alike once a week. The scouts often come for Bukauskas but have come to appreciate Warmoth’s grit, talent and performance.
He was in this situation before as a high schooler, playing showcase ball. Except on his 2013 Orlando Scorpions travel ball team, Warmoth was essentially unknown.
"He was a solid player, but he was under the radar," said Scorpions coach Jerry Kennedy. "He wasn't getting any pro looks, let alone colleges, (who) were going after those high-caliber guys."
When Kennedy references "high-caliber guys," he's not being hyperbolic. Brendan Rodgers--taken No. 3 overall to the Rockies in the 2015 draft--started at shortstop, pushing Warmoth to third or second or even the outfield, where he would sometimes play with current Virginia and Miami outfielders Adam Haseley and Carl Chester, both of whom were getting more attention.
It wasn't just those three players, though. Lefthander Foster Griffin went to the Royals with the 28th pick of the 2014 Draft. First baseman Dash Winningham went in the eighth round to the Mets, while second baseman Tate Blackman (currently with Mississippi) went to the Brewers in the 20th. Lefthander Carson Sands--the second Class of 2015 player on the team, along with Rodgers--was taken by the Cubs in the fourth round of the 2014 Draft.
Kennedy said that team was probably the most talented he and owner Matt Gerber have ever had. Winning the 2016 17u WWBA National Championship solidified that theory.
In total, the 2013 Scorpions rostered eight players who were drafted in 2014 and another two who were drafted in 2015. None of the names called ended with "Warmoth."
None of that bothered him.
2013 Orlando Scorpions Prime Roster
|Name||Position||College Commitment||Drafted||Current/Most Recent|
|Tate Blackman||SS/2B||Mississippi||Brewers, 20th||Mississippi|
|Colton Campbell||LHP/1B||Auburn||–||2016 Auburn|
|Carl Chester||OF/UT||Miami||Brewers, 38th||Miami|
|Billy Cooke||OF/UT||Coastal Carolina||–||Coastal Carolina|
|Logan Crouse||RHP/OF||Florida State||Dodgers, 30th (15)||2016 Dodgers rookie ball|
|Mijon Cummings||3B/1B/OF||Bethune-Cookman||–||2015 Bethune-Cookman|
|Weston Davis||RHP||Florida||Nationals, 11th||Low Class A Hagerstown|
|Foster Griffin||LHP/OF||Mississippi||Royals, 1st||High Class A Wilmington|
|Garrett Hall||3B/1B/SS||–||2016 State College of Florida|
|John Jones||C/OF||Miami||Twins, 39th||South Carolina|
|Andrew Karp||RHP/OF||Florida State||–||Florida State|
|Reid Long||LHP/1B/OF||Troy||–||Faulkner University|
|Jose Lopez||C||Florida International||Reds, 33rd||2016 State College of Florida|
|Ronnie May||RHP||–||2016 Northwest Florida State College|
|Patrick McClellan||1B/2B||Columbus State||–||Columbus State|
|Conner Prater||OF/IF||Eastern Florida State||–||–|
|Brendan Rodgers||SS/2B||Florida State||Rockies, 1st (15)||Low Class A Asheville|
|Blake Sanderson||RHP/MIF||Florida Atlantic||–||Florida Atlantic|
|Carson Sands||LHP/3B||Florida State||Cubs, 4th||2016 Low Class A South Bend|
|Logan Warmoth||MIF/OF||North Carolina||–||North Carolina|
|Dash Winningham||1B/LHP||Florida Gulf Coast||Mets, 8th||Low Class A Columbia|
"He has confidence, that's one thing he definitely does have," Kennedy said. "Even being overshadowed with Rodgers and the other guys, with Blackman on that team . . . he didn't feel (left) out. He knew he belonged."
The rest of the baseball world knows that now, too. Warmoth has improved offensively each season with the No. 3 Tar Heels after hitting just .246/.315/.282 in 58 games as a freshman--the same season he slid from third base to shortstop and quickly showed he could handle the position.
As a sophomore he upped his triple slash to .337/.402/.481. His average and on-base numbers in 2017 are similar to those of 2016, but he's added power to his game as well. His ISO has gone up from .036 to .144 to .215 each season in Chapel Hill. The slugging has shown up in his Carolina Blue uniform after a 27-game summer in the Cape Cod League last summer that saw him hit four homers in 100 at-bats.
For Kennedy, that spike in power was unexpected, but nothing else has been. Warmoth’s athleticism and versatility were immediately apparent. He had a short, compact stroke and he hit well with the Scorpions.
"The tools just weren't loud,” Kennedy said, “like some of the other guys we had."
Relative to the 2017 draft class, Warmoth's tools still aren't incredibly loud. He's average or above-average across the board, but has managed to put them all together and become one of the highest-performing middle infielders in the country.
"I think his success has to do with his testament to his hard work," Kennedy said. "He's just a baseball junkie, he was always asking for extra BP before our Scorpion games, even after our Scorpion games.
"Between games I would throw to him constantly. Even in the offseason, he would come back. He was always in the Scorpion facility, hitting. So his success, I'm not too shocked."
Because of that, he'll soon join the ten other drafted Scorpion players as another example of the immense talent on that team. No longer an afterthought.