UNC head coach Mike Fox is of a similar opinion. "Jimmy is a tough kid," Fox said. "We love his bulldog mentality."
Describing Messer's toughness, South Caldwell head coach Jeff Parham said, "He's a great young man but on the baseball field he's a fierce competitor. We knew that every game he was on the mound we had a great chance to win and that was mainly because of his competitiveness."
College coaches around the country must have noticed this characteristic as well due to the extensive list of suitors vying for his signature. Messer chose the Heels over strong interest from N.C. State, Clemson, South Carolina, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
"You know I've been down to Carolina a lot, maybe six or seven times and it just seems like down there on the baseball team its more of a family and not just a team," Messer said. "They do things together and they're always hanging out with each other and that's how it is at my high school. We won the state championship last year and it's a family concept more than just individuals, so I like when I go down to Carolina, I feel like I'm part of the family."
Parham agreed Messer and UNC will be a great match."What UNC has done in the past two years is just amazing and for a Carolina kid to go to Carolina, it says a lot about their program," Parham said. "I thought it was a great fit, just hearing Jimmy talk about the coaching staff. They have a family atmosphere and that's just the way Jimmy is."
Messer is the second standout pitcher from South Caldwell to commit to the Tar Heels in as many years. The first, Madison Bumgarner, was a first round draft choice (No. 10 overall) by the San Francisco Giants a year ago and opted for professional ball over Chapel Hill.
Messer focused primarily on pitching last year for South Caldwell and finished at 15-0 on the bump. He is looking forward to this season, though, as he'll also play some shortstop and third base while having more opportunities at the plate.
Although his fastball sits in the low 90s, his curve ball might be his most dangerous weapon. A Perfect Game scout said, "His best pitch is a power curve ball with plus bite and good feel." Fox described it as an "outstanding breaking ball."
Messer is ranked by Perfect Game as the No. 120 overall prospect in the nation and No. 5 in the state. He has the potential to make an immediate impact on the Tar Heel rotation, but realizes there's work left to do before he arrives in Chapel Hill.
"I'm going to work on placing my fastball and staying in shape," he said. "I'm keeping myself fit and keeping my legs stronger and conditioning, really just all the things that come with pitching."
And he's already made plans for his career as a Tar Heel. "Make it back to Omaha," Messer declared. "When I get down there we're going to be really tough to beat. We got a lot of good people coming in and we're going to work on getting back to Omaha and then just work on improving to get to the next level."
|Seth Baldwin||OF||Forest City (N.C.) East Rutherford|
|Derrik Gibson||SS/OF||Seaford (Del.) High|
|Matt Harrison||SS||Henderson (Nev.) Green Valley|
|L.J. Hoes||OF||Washington (D.C.) St. John|
|Jason Knapp||RHP||Annandale (N.J.) North Hunterdon|
|Garrison Lassiter||SS||Clemmons (N.C.) West Forsyth|
|Tim Melville||RHP/3B||Wentzville (Mo.) Holt|
|Jimmy Messer||RHP||Hudson (N.C.) South Caldwell|
|Quinton Miller||RHP||Medford (N.J.) Shawnee|
|Jacob Stallings||C||Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood|
|Jeff May||C||Creedmoor (N.C.) South Granville|
|Brian Goodwin||OF||Rocky Mount (N.C.) High|
|Levi Michael||MIF||Lexington (N.C.) North Davidson|
|Chris Munnelly||RHP||Lewisville (N.C.) Forsyth Country Day|