Leading up to Day 1 of the MLB Draft on June 12, we will be conducting Q&A interviews with many prospects who are projected to be first-rounders. For a complete listing of these interviews, click here.
Next is UNC shortstop Logan Warmoth, a 6-foot, 190-lb. Orlando native who led the Heels to a 49-14 record and no. 2 national seed this season. Warmoth hit .336/.404/.554 with 10 homers in 63 games this season, rising up draft boards as the season went on.
Warmoth is almost a sure bet to be taken in the first round, with Baseball America (22nd-Blue Jays), ESPN (23rd-Dodgers), and MLB.com (21st-Orioles or 22nd-Blue Jays) all having him off the board in the early 20s. Be sure to check out Warmoth’s full scouting report over at SB Nation’s Minor League Ball.
At what point did you start playing baseball and realize you loved the game?
“I think it was when my brothers started playing. I’ve always grown up watching them and trying to emulate them. When they would have games, I would have my own teams set up and play imaginary games with my mom and the playground. She would fake throw the ball and I’d tell her what happened, if it was a ball or a strike and stuff. Probably 2 or 3.”
Growing up, which team was your favorite? Any favorite players?
“I would say the Braves, having their spring training in our backyard in Orlando. I grew up watching them during the school year. My dad would always let me play hooky once in a while to go watch Chipper hit BP. That was always fun to go do. Favorite player is Jeter, just how he played the game and how he played shortstop. Just looking up to him on and off the field.”
For you, was there a turning point moment when you realized you could potentially be a first-round pick?
“It’s always been a dream of mine so it’s weird in a time like now when it’s so close and I’m seeing all this stuff. It’s a different feeling. I didn’t have that growing up, going out of high school. Once I stepped on campus and saw that I could compete with everyone and then got the opportunity to start, I went on to play summer ball and got better each year. After my sophomore year, had a good Cape and realized I had a chance to go pretty high. I always believed in my talents so it’s been nice to be recognized.”
Your high school, Lake Brantley, has a rich baseball history, with Jason Varitek, the Weeks brothers and Nick Franklin among the guys to go there. What’s it like going to a high school with a rich baseball tradition and pro pipeline?
“It’s pretty cool. Orlando is stacked as a pro pipeline, and college players if you look around the country you’ll see there are always one or two guys that played in my district or conference. Just shows that Orlando is a powerhouse so it’s always fun playing against those good talents and seeing how I stacked up against them.”
What led to your decision to go to UNC in the first place?
“It’s always been a dream of mine. It’s been my dream school. I went to a camp there my junior year, and I wasn’t even in North Carolina for them. I was there for Wake Forest and just happened to have North Carolina have a camp that weekend. My dad said we might as well go check it out, and I had a good camp and Coaches [Mike] Fox and [former assistant Scott] Jackson liked me and stayed in touch. Just kept in touch with them.”
Carolina’s recruiting class was decimated when you came in as a freshman, as six of the school’s top recruits were taken in the top 64 picks of the 2014 draft. What was that like for you, seeing that great recruiting class never actually come to campus?
“It was exciting for them but kind of heartbreaking for us because we knew the talent we had coming in. I couldn’t imagine that lineup this year, the stud pitchers and then we would’ve had [Braves prospect] Braxton Davidson, [Rockies prospect] Forrest Wall and [Cardinals prospect] Jack Flaherty would’ve probably been two-way. That lineup would’ve been crazy. But I don’t think [UNC outfielder] Brian Miller gets to campus, which is a crazy thing to think about, because he was committed to UNC-Asheville and signed after the draft. Who knows what would’ve happened? I think it worked out for the best. It would’ve been nice to have those guys in the lineup every day, but I’m happy for them and they’re doing great things.”
UNC was the no. 2 national seed in the tournament this year, and even though you guys lost to Davidson, Carolina baseball was back on the map after a couple of down years. What was it like being a leader on a re-born program?
“It was awesome. First two years, we didn’t have that kind of experience or that fan base. We were good, but we always had one or two guys that went down and hurt our season. We were lucky to have everyone stay healthy, other than Hansen [Butler]. We had some guys fill his spot. That’s how North Carolina should be looked at. I’m glad that we put them back on the map, and there will be some bright things to come for them in the next couple years.”
As someone inside the athletics program, what was it like having the basketball team win the national championship this season?
“Last year  was disappointing. A really good basketball team, runner-up, and then having both men’s and women’s lacrosse be national champions. Field hockey was runner-up, then we didn’t even make the ACC Tournament. It’s kind of a goal going into the fall to not be that one sport again that lets down Carolina. For it to be the baseball team is another thing, because that’s what Carolina is known for other than the basketball team. So going into the fall, we didn’t want that on our shoulders again.”
What’s your biggest strength as a player?
“Just being a hard worker, going out there every day trying to get better. Just continuing to push myself, no matter if it’s going good or bad, getting better. Just being hard working.”
On the other side of that, what part of your game do you hope to work on the hardest moving forward?
“Probably my first-step quickness and my range, just getting better reads. The shift was different this year, but it certainly helped me get to some balls. A lot of pro teams are doing that now, so that helped. That, and just my speed. Just continuing to work on those two things.”
There is some speculation from pro scouts that you could move to second base at the next level. Is that something you’re open to, and what’s your expectation of where you’ll be?
“I’m not hoping to move. If it’s the decision of the organization and it’s best for them, I’ll be glad to do whatever it takes to get to the next level. I believed in my talent as a shortstop, I played my three years in Carolina and thought I played pretty well at short. I believe in my talents there, so we’ll see when that time comes.”
I had J.B. Bukauskas do this for you so I’ll do the same. Why should a team pick him with a high selection and commit millions of dollars to him?
“He’s hard-working, that’s number one. He’s gonna be there as a person and a teammate for you when times are good and times are bad. He’s someone to look up to. When something doesn’t go his way the night before, just him being there Saturday already with his post-workout in and already getting himself ready for next week. Not only that, but being there to cheer on his team and telling the next pitcher what that lineup looks like. That really describes his character not just as a player. He just really wants to win and be a competitor.”
Your brother Tyler is at Double-A in the Angels’ organization. What advice has he given you about how to adjust to minor-league life?
“I told him the other day, it must be nice to be a pitcher. He plays every third or fourth day, so I don’t want to hear it from him when he tells me he’s tired after these next couple of months. I’ve been talking to [Rockies prospect] Brendan Rodgers and he’s said it’s a grind, but If you love the game then you’ll enjoy that grind.”
I’m sure you’ve been asked the comp question a million times, but here it is again. Who’s your comp?
“I like to say Trevor Story. He’s a really good shortstop, defensively, but he’s also an offensive-minded shortstop. He’s got a little more power at this point, but a lot of people compare my swing to his. That same stride.”
What are your expectations for draft night? Any goals as to where you’ll end up?
“I’m not trying to look too much into where or how early I’m picked. I’ve done everything I could do this point to build a resume to this point, so whatever team picks me I’ll be excited to get to work. Just continuing my dream.”