North Mecklenburg baseball star and top prospect Ryder Ryan has committed to North Carolina.
The Tar Heels beat out South Carolina and N.C. State for the No. 14 prospect in the class of 2014 rankings by Maxpreps.com.
“(North Carolina) came on strong late,” said Sean Ryan, Ryder’s father and high school coach. “I think South Carolina and N.C. State were in the front there for a while, and then after doing our homework and studying more ... we both felt that for his future and the next level that (UNC) was going to be best for him.”
Ryan expects to play third base and pitch for the Tar Heels, though he also can play catcher. He also considered Clemson and Georgia in the decision he made over the weekend.
In his junior season, Ryder hit .593 with eight double, five home runs and 29 RBIs. On the mound, he tallied a minuscule 0.72 ERA with 109 strikeouts.
“It was a really hard decision,” Ryder said. “I just loved how they do things (in Chapel Hill). I just loved the coaches – they teach well – the facilities, the field. I just loved the feeling I got there.”
The family had been visiting schools for 18 months, and Ryan said he was happy the process was complete.
“You don’t know how much I feel better,” he said. “That was really big on my chest. I really wanted to get it out of the way and just play ball.”
Ryan worked to make the decision before his summer team, the South Charlotte Panthers, began a tournament at East Cobb, Ga. His father has already noticed a difference.
“I can tell in his voice that he’s very relieved,” Sean Ryan said, “It’s a lot of pressure off him that he doesn’t have to worry about performing for the college scouts.”
Now he’s dealing with another set of scouts. He said he’s been contacted by a handful of major league teams, including Toronto, San Francisco and St. Louis, but hasn’t decided what do if that option arose a year from now. He'd like to go to college but is also excited about the potential of fulfilling his childhood dream of playing professionally.
“We focused on the school thing, and now what’s left is the draft,” Sean said. “Hopefully he plays well at right time and he gets drafted, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”