Bio: Leemhuis big junior season earned him First Team All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference honors in 2008 and was followed by a roster spot in the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field. He is the second UNC commitment in as many years from St. John’s College High School - Baltimore Orioles farmhand L.J. Hoes signed with the Tar Heels in 2008 before opting to begin his professional career.
Stats: Leemhuis batted .330 over his career at St. John’s, with 15 doubles, 7 triples, 1 home run, 56 stolen bases (21 his senior year) and 54 runs batted in. He batted .341 as a sophomore and then his junior year hit .355 with 20 RBI, 16 stolen bases, four doubles and four triples. After a rough slump to start his senior campaign, Leemhuis finished strong and then carried the momentum into the summer. He batted a league-leading .525 this summer, with 27 runs batted in, 8 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs and 12 stolen bases in Legion competition in the D.C. area.
Recruitment: "The first time I talked with the UNC coaches it was at the World Wood Bat Tournament of my junior summer heading to my senior year - that is where Coach Forbes first contacted me," Leemhuis said. "I saw the coaches once when L.J. Hoes was starting on the mound - Coach Forbes and Coach Fox came to see him pitch. I was interested in North Carolina the first time they called me. Ever since I was 10 [years old] I wanted to go there - it has been by dream school to go there and once they called me they were my No. 1 choice right then."
Leemhuis signed with North Carolina over offers from George Mason, Mount St. Mary's and Richmond and was recruited by Maryland, Clemson, South Carolina, NC State, Florida State, Alabama, Boston College, Virginia.
Why Carolina?: "The academics and the new stadium made me decide to commit to North Carolina - it was still being built during my visit," stated Leemhuis about the main factors in choosing UNC. "It was all concrete and Coach Fox showed us around and showed us where the weight room was going to be, where the locker room was going to be - the players lounge and stuff like that. The grass and dirt was not even in yet. It was exciting. The other people on the visit were very excited to see what it was going to look like. When we arrived for orientation [this summer] we were shocked."
Scouting Report: Leemhuis has a strong arm from the outfield and smooth fielding skills. He easily handles any attempts on balls that he can track down. The 6-0, 180-pound outfielder bats and throws right handed. He has speed to track down balls in the gaps in addition to savvy baserunning skills. He has quick hands at the plate, showing gap to gap power with good bat speed, and hits line drives. He has played some behind the plate and featured a 2.15 POP time at the 2006 Perfect Game Atlantic Coast Showcase as a catcher.
Coach Quotes: "As an overall kid he was great,” said St. John’s coach Mark Gibbs. “He really exhibited in his four years here that he was a team guy, he wanted to win, he played hard and worked hard and was excited to be on the field. His ability over the board is above average, but just being on the field - his instincts, baserunning, hitting - he did it all and did it very well. I thought it was great that two years in a row that we had a commitment to North Carolina. He wanted to go to North Carolina since he was a little kid and I thought it was a great thing that happened and was happy for him."
"He had some interest from scouts during the fall,” Gibbs continued. “Throughout the spring it really was not happening - for him he was going to have to have a great start to have the [scouts] come in. He actually finished strong - hitting .360 or .370 to finish the season over his last 10 or so games - but had such a slow start that guys that came out never came back. He is a 17-year-old high school kid, so of course he showed some emotion, but always came to the park with a great attitude and persevered through it. I would not say that [his early slump] was pressure - it was just one of those things where he had to dig himself out of a big hole."
Future Plans: Leemhuis expects to begin his move to Chapel Hill on Aug. 20 and already has his goals set up for his college career, "I want to win a national championship for my teammates,” he said. “I would definitely like to play, obviously and want to work out and getting an education at North Carolina can take you farther in life."
Video: Under Armour All-American Game Scouting Film
(Photos courtesy Mike Janes Photography and Baseball Factory)