Recruitment: Orth was first contacted by North Carolina in the summer of 2010. The left-handed pitcher was coming off a breakout season in which he, as a freshman, went 9-2 with a 0.89 ERA and 127 strikeouts. Orth struck out 18 batters in the conference title game, a 2-1 Southwest Guilford victory.
The breakout performance got the attention of Tar Heels as well as other elite programs. Orth strongly considered offers from South Carolina and Wake Forest, but the chance to play for his childhood favorite Tar Heels was too much to pass up. Orth committed to North Carolina that same summer shortly before the start of his sophomore year.
Why Carolina? Live in North Carolina and it is hard to ignore the influence and reach of Tar Heel athletics. As a child growing up in High Point, N.C., Orth was no different and became familiar with North Carolina baseball at a young age.
"Ever since I was probably 10 years old, I've always loved UNC," Orth said. "I used to go to a lot of camps when I was younger, so I just got hooked and that's when I started looking at them."
Of course, it was more than being a fan that convinced Orth, who wants to study physical therapy, to commit to North Carolina. He said the ability to maximize his potential on the baseball diamond was a key factor in his decision as well.
"I think I'd like to be a two-way player," Orth mentioned. "I love to hit and play first base equally as much as pitching. I think I'm good at both. I think I'm equal as a strength at hitting and pitching."
Scouting Report: Orth has the ability to make an impact at North Carolina both on the mound and at the plate. Perfect Game clocked his fastball at 87 mph in July to go along with a solid curveball. However, it is the little things that make Orth a dominant pitcher. He has the endurance to go deep into games and prides himself on keeping base runners from advancing while still being aggressive and going after the hitter.
In three years at Southwest Guilford, the left-hander has been a unanimous all-conference selection every year, an all-state player the past two seasons and won back-to-back conference player of the year awards. Last spring, Orth was shut down at the beginning of the season due to a sore arm, but still managed to go 5-1 with a 2.32 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 42.1 innings.
In addition to throwing left-handed, Orth bats from the left side as well. He has improved at the plate every year in high school while adding a decent amount of power and speed. In limited action last season, Orth batted .413 with 32 RBI and churned out 18 extra base hits, including six home runs.
"The thing about Matt is he can beat you in many different ways," Southwest Guilford head coach Reid Holmes said. "Number one, he's good enough he can beat you on the mound and I think he swings the bat equally well. I know [North Carolina] has told some people in the past like George Carter last year and now Luis Paula [that they can play two ways]… I know it's difficult, but he's got an opportunity to make a contribution in multiple ways. If something were to happen on the mound, obviously I think he swings the bat really well. He's going to get an opportunity to do both."
Orth hopes to compete for immediate playing time when he arrives in Chapel Hill next year. Almost every pitcher who comes to North Carolina has the ability to hit on the high school level. However, Orth's improvement at the plate during high school gives him an improved shot at finding early playing time not only on the mound, but at the plate as well.
Coach Quotes:"I knew from the very beginning," Holmes mentioned. "You hear about these kids in middle school and you're just not sure whether the reputation that they get is warranted, but it did not take me long to realize that, after a couple days of tryouts, that he belonged and that he was as good as advertised."
"I think versatility and his demeanor [separate him]. He's just calm, cool and collected," Holmes continued. "He doesn't seem to get rattled. He's always seizing the moment, not thinking too far ahead. He's just been good. Going into next season I don't want to say he's the best player I've ever coached, but I will say he's probably going to turn out to be the best player I've ever coached and I've got some guys playing Division 1 right now… I've had some guys, but he's as good as anybody that I've coached and he'll probably go down as the best player that I've ever coached."