Korey Dunbar is a 6-1, 210-pound right-handed catcher from Charleston, West Virginia who stars for Nitro High School. He is ranked by Perfect Game as the top prospect in the state and top 500 nationally in the 2012 prep class. He earned all-state honors as a junior, batting .533 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI. Dunbar has played for the Diamond Devils during the summer showcase circuit.
A tip from an MLB scout (and former Tar Heel) sparked UNC's recruitment of the talented catcher. “I think it took off the summer of my sophomore year.” Dunbar said of his recruitment by UNC. “I was at a tournament in East Cobb, Atlanta and a scout [for San Francisco] Jeremy Cleveland saw me play and I guess talked with Coach Fox and told him about me. That fall of my junior year they saw me at a showcase and they had e-mailed me and talked about coming down for a visit. I went down [to Chapel Hill] and went to a showcase and saw Coach Woodard and came back to West Virginia and they wanted me to come back for a football game for a visit and then they offered me.”
As his recruitment progressed, Dunbar developed a comfort level with the North Carolina coaching staff. "Coach Jackson was the first guy who e-mailed me and I talked to him a little bit in the beginning of the recruiting part,” Dunbar said. “I did get to see Coach Woodard in person. He was the first person from Carolina that I was able to talk to face to face. So me and him are pretty close and I talked to him a lot during the recruiting process. I talk to Coach Fox a whole lot. To me a head coach is kind of like your father for four years. I felt like that is what he is to me. With Coach Jackson, I talk with him and obviously he is the hitting coach and when I got back from a tournament this past summer I was able to talk a little bit about what was going on in my head and he was able to help me out tremendously from that point. Coach Forbes, when he was at Winthrop he recruited West Virginia area, so he and I clicked instantly and he works with the catchers and obviously I’m a catcher. He is real laid back and it just clicked.”
Dunbar committed to the Tar Heels after his official visit and he then canceled his other visits. “I think to me (you look) to get a certain type of feeling when you set foot on campus, that you get a certain feeling of home away from home,” Dunbar said. “As soon as I stepped foot on that campus that is exactly the feeling I got. The school is like a public Ivy League school and you cannot beat the academics. As a student-athlete the student part comes first. That was just a big thing for me. Plus the baseball is a top program every year going to the College World Series. That part was kind of a no-brainer. The coaches were first class - perfect and could not ask for anything better. I am just happy about it.”
Dunbar chose to sign with North Carolina over Louisville, NC State, Cincinnati, Kentucky, West Virginia and Marshall.
Dunbar is a powerfully built catcher with excellent catch and throw skills. He has a strong and accurate release to second base. He has a powerful bat from the right side and can hit both for power and average. He is versatile enough to play in the corner infield or outfield and even pitched some limited innings for Nitro down its stretch run.
Some scouts think that Dunbar has as much upside as any signee in UNC's class and his right handed bat could earn him an early entrance into the lineup.
“He hits with power and we are going to find out how the new bats that colleges switched to last year will do,” said Nitro coach Steve Pritchard. “He hit 11 home runs for us last year and they would have been out of any park anywhere. He is more of an alley hitter - left center to right center. He has good power to right field. He is constantly working on his catching skills. I’m biased but I thought he was the best catcher in West Virginia last year. He throws a 1.9- to 2-second pop time. He is a great leader and leads by example and is vocal but does it in a positive way. He is just a great kid on and off the field.”
"He has always been that kid - he started for us as a freshman on a team that had two players drafted off that team so far and he was right there and held his own. Each year he keeps getting better. I think this year he started the year off at 196 pounds and he is up to 210 right now. He is in the weight room every time we open it and he is the last one to leave. I think North Carolina got a good player and he chose a good college.
“His biggest thing, and I know he will get to play fall ball in college, but the type of pitching that he will see on a day to day basis in the ACC is not anywhere close to what he is going to be seeing day to day in West Virginia. He will see 75 to 82 [mph fastballs] day in and day out here this spring. He will dominate that kind of pitching. And I think given some time he will be a good hitter in college once he gets used to seeing the 85 mph-plus."
Dunbar has been discussing with the UNC coaching staff the team's needs and his freshman year opportunities. “They have talked about if everything goes right starting as a freshman,” Dunbar said. “I told them that was my goal - to start as a freshman and make an immediate impact. They seemed pretty pumped and I think that is one of their goals for me as well. They saw me first playing a little bit of outfield or maybe third, I can’t remember. That would be a possibility as well. Catching is my first love and I would love to do that but if that does not happen I want to play and make an impact as soon as I get there.”
As the top-rated talent in West Virginia, the area MLB scouts are certainly aware of Dunbar. “I have talked with 9-10 teams now and I have not sat down with any of them yet,” Dunbar said. “Some of them are supposed to come in January or February and work me out and stuff like that. It is a process where I have to take it day by day but ultimately I want to go to school and it will take a lot for me to leave UNC.”
Dunbar added he is very excited about the opportunity to play for North Carolina and already has his goals lined up. “I want to make All-American for UNC and win the College World Series,” he said. “I am kind of undecided on my major right now but I am leaning towards something in the physical therapy part of it - either that or maybe coach at the college level some day. I really like teaching but right now I am going to play that by ear.”