Bio: Pate is a 5-foot-9, 175-pound outfielder at Pikeville (N.C.) Charles B. Aycock High School. He is ranked the No. 500 recruit nationally and No. 12 in North Carolina by Perfect Game. Pate plays for the Dirtbags travel squad during the summer and fall.
Recruitment: Pate was initially contacted by North Carolina at the end of August 2010 following his appearance in the futures game in Chapel Hill. He received an invitation to camp later that fall and the North Carolina staff continued to evaluate Pate into the spring and following summer.
“I fell in love with Carolina and wanted to go there, from coach [Scott] Jackson and coach [Scott] Forbes hearing everything they talked about and it was just the place for me,” Pate said.
Aside from the Tar Heels, East Carolina was the most prevalent player in Pate’s recruitment. Pate believes he would have received plenty of interest from other schools had he not indicated North Carolina was the place for him early on in the process. Pate committed to North Carolina on Sept. 1 of last year.
Why Carolina? Pate’s first visit to UNC had a major impact on his recruitment. Despite living just under 90 miles east of Chapel Hill, Pate had only heard about the facilities and campus from his high school head coach Charles Davis.
“When I finally got a chance to go visit and to tour the place, that is second to none,” Pate commented. “It’s amazing up there and the education is another thing. When you get a diploma from Carolina everybody knows and respects you for that. It’s just the top tier college baseball and academics in the country.”
Coach Davis’s knowledge of the school and program was not the only key in helping Pate learn more about North Carolina. His relationship with Tar Heel head coach Mike Fox also helped introduce the outfielder to the North Carolina program.
“My high school coach has always had a good relationship with coach [Mike] Fox and so he’s always pushed me when he saw that I could be a pretty good ball player,” Pate said. “He’d always talk to coach Fox about me.”
Oftentimes, players of Pate’s age and talent expect to arrive in college and play right away. However, the ability of the players already at North Carolina does not always allow for that. Pate, who wants to major in sports management or education, is patient and looks at the competition at North Carolina as an opportunity to improve as a baseball player. He looks forward to playing and prospering alongside “the best talent in the country.”
Scouting Report: Pate is your typical leadoff hitter. With exceptional speed and the ability to hit line drives, the right-hander can do a little bit of everything at the plate from bunting for a hit as well as hitting for a little bit of power. Last spring, Pate hit .364 with five doubles, two triples and two home runs for C.B. Aycock.
“I’m not the guy who hits a 400-foot home run every at bat or even every other at bat, but I’m a guy who can hit… anywhere in the order and try and get on base and make things happen,” Pate said. “I go for the extra base whenever I can and little things like taking advantage of the defense sleeping. I try to utilize that and make stuff happen for the team and get a rally going.”
Pate is a tremendous weapon on the base path. He stole 26 bases and was only caught twice last spring. North Carolina’s tendency to play small ball, move base runners over as well as the lack of home runs off the composite bats make Pate a valuable player for the Tar Heels. When North Carolina struggles to score runs, as they did at times last year, Pate can create scoring opportunities by himself.
Naturally, Pate’s speed is best used in the outfield. He can cover plenty of ground and has an arm capable of gunning out runners at any base. Pate plays centerfield for the Dirtbags.
“On the next level he’s definitely going to be an outfielder,” Davis said. “With his speed and his arm and everything he’ll definitely be an outfielder.”
Coach Quotes: “I’ll tell you one thing he has going for him is that he’s just a great young man and I mean an all-around great young man,” Davis said “He is a fierce competitor, which drives him to succeed. He has a very good arm and he’s got great speed and he, of course, can swing the bat too. I think he’s a throwback player from years ago. He’s just very hardnosed and fierce competitor and just plays the game hard and plays the game the right way.”
“Number one, and I’ll go back to this again, is he’s a great kid and he’s a great person and he plays hard,” Davis continued. “He just plays the game the right way and he’s no prima donna or nothing like that. He’s such a fierce competitor and everything and he wants to succeed, but he wants the team to succeed and he just plays hard and plays the game the right way.”