Bio:Barnette is a 6-foot-0, 185-pound third baseman and outfielder for Monroe (N.C.) Piedmont High School. According to Perfect Game, the senior ranks 497th nationally and 13th in North Carolina among class of 2013 prospects. During the fall and summer, Barnette plays for the South Charlotte Panthers travel squad.
Recruitment:The first time the North Carolina coaching staff saw Barnette was actually by accident. Assistant coach Scott Jackson was at a game to watch Tar Heel commitment Peter Hendel. Barnette was just a sophomore, but pitched against Hendel’s squad and pitched well, catching the attention of Jackson.
“I pitched against them and threw a pretty good game so he called my summer coach, Coach Hudson of the South Charlotte Panthers, and talked to him to get me on a visit up there and I went on a visit that weekend and just loved the campus,” Barnette explained.
In addition to North Carolina, Barnette visited and was offered scholarships by Appalachian State as well as N.C. State. Clemson also expressed interest in the right-hander, but Barnette preferred to stay in-state.
North Carolina was always on the top of Barnette’s list and he kept in contact with the coaching staff throughout the summer following his initial visit. During another trip to Chapel Hill last in Sept. 2011, head coach Mike Fox offered him a scholarship. A few weeks later, Barnette committed to North Carolina.
“I loved Carolina and I wanted to talk with them as much as I could so after they offered me that fall I committed after we had a tournament and played at Carolina,” Barnette said. “I committed right after one of our games.”
Why Carolina? On his initial visit to Chapel Hill, Barnette discovered the Tar Heel coaching staff was the right fit.
“Probably the top reason [I choose North Carolina] was the coaching staff and the way they treated my family,” Barnette said. “They totally set their mindset on me while I was going on my visit there and just asked me questions, made me feel comfortable around them, around the whole campus.”
Much of Barnette’s time at North Carolina will be spent learning in the classroom and studying. While he hopes to continue to play baseball after college, Barnette, who plans on majoring in physical therapy, recognizes that baseball may not always be there.
“Also the school is just an amazing school academics-wise,” Barnette said. “I feel that they can help me if baseball happens to not work out and I don't go further in baseball. I can say when I go to a job that I went to Carolina.”
Scouting Report: Barnette can help the Tar Heels either in the outfield or the infield. He played outfield as an underclassman in high school, but now plays mostly at third base.
“Right now my primary position is third,” Barnette said. “That's where I play just about every single game. I played outfield too so I wouldn't say I have a primary position. I love to play outfield, but third would have to be my most primary position.”
Over the summer, Barnette worked on his footwork, because in order to have success at third base you must be quick on your feet and possess a strong arm. Barnette already has the strong arm and improved footwork will only help as he approaches his senior season.
The coaching staff at North Carolina will decide what spot fits Barnette best once he arrives in Chapel Hill, but his versatility should serve the Tar Heels well. Barnette was the No. 1 pitcher for Piedmont last year, but that isn’t expected to be his focus at UNC.
At the plate, the right-handed hitter primarily hits for average. He has very quick hands, which allows him to get around on balls inside as well as wait on the ball as it approaches the plate. Last spring, Barnette hit .426 with 22 RBI, 12 doubles, three triples and three home runs. He also stole eight bases.
“He hits for average and he gets better each year,” Piedmont head coach Milt Flow said. “The first couple of years he just wanted to pull the ball and pull the ball. Last year he started doing it and this fall he's been doing a real good job of using the whole field now.”
Coach Quotes: “His freshman year his bat was good enough that we slid him in the outfield and he played real well there and part of his sophomore year was outfield and then we moved him to the infield, short and third, plus his pitching,” Flow said. “He's been pitching since freshman year and he's a good pitcher for us, but I think probably outfield would be his best position and he's just a better infielder than [anybody] we have now so that's why I don't play him in the outfield anymore.”
“Ever since he was a freshman he's one of those guys that works like crazy,” Flow said. “He's always wanting extra (reps) after we finish with practice and then he goes and works out with his dad and after he's done with [high school baseball] he spends all summer with the South Charlotte Panthers. He just loves baseball and he works hard.”
“He's always the same,” Flow continued. “If he had a great game he's the same and then if he has a bad game he's the same. He just stays the same every day. He's going to be a good one for (UNC).”