Future Diamond Heel: Tanner Bigham

Inside Carolina profiles UNC's 2013 baseball recruiting class. Today the spotlight is on Tanner Bigham.

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Bio: Bigham is a 6-foot, 185-pound infielder for Concord (N.C.) Northwest Cabarrus High School. The senior is ranked in the top-500 nationally and No. 12 in North Carolina in the class of 2013 according to Perfect Game. Bigham plays for the Dirtbags travel team during the summer and fall.

Recruitment: During the fall of his sophomore season Bigham participated in a futures game in Chapel Hill. His performance at that event grabbed the attention of the North Carolina coaching staff and soon thereafter the Tar Heels got in contact with him.

"They were talking to my summer coach, Andy Partin, and I think he talked with them a little bit and then I went up to a prospect camp up there and I think that's when they said they were going to offer me and it was like two weeks later they offered and I just committed right on the spot really," Bigham said.

Bigham also had a scholarship offer from Appalachian State as well as interest from East Carolina and UNC-Greensboro. However, his early commitment to North Carolina put to rest any competition from other schools for the infielder.

Why Carolina? Like many who grow up in North Carolina, Bigham hoped to represent the University of North Carolina. As an elite in-state prospect, Bigham was granted the opportunity early in his high school career and it did not take long to make a decision.

The success of the Diamond Heels certainly played a role in his decision, but the overall college atmosphere and experience are what sealed the deal for Bigham. He not only wanted to be part of a great baseball program, but he also put an emphasis on what the school had to offer as far as campus life and academics.

"I would say other than the fact that Chapel Hill is one of the best teams in the area was the academics," Bigham explained. "Of course the academics are just awesome there and the school and the campus and the stadium and everything about it is, from my eyes, just perfect for me and what I dreamed about playing in and going to school there and stuff."

Bigham also appreciates the competition at North Carolina. He understands that playing time is not guaranteed and that he must put forth exceptional effort in order to crack the lineup. While Bigham would certainly like to play as much as possible, he has already bought into putting the team and the goals of the program ahead of his own.

"They expect me to work hard every day so I can get ready for what they want me to do up there which is whatever they want to do," Bigham said. "If it's playing the first year, if it's playing my senior year, my goal is to win a College World Series."

Scouting Report: Bigham, who throws right-handed, will likely play second base at North Carolina. He has the mobility and arm to play any position in the infield, but all indications are that his focus will be on second base when he arrives in Chapel Hill.

"I think they want me as a second baseman," Bigham said. "Whenever they talk to other people and they describe me they describe me as a second baseman, but anywhere in the infield would be fine with me. I'm sure it would be fine with them, but I think second base right now would be primarily where they want me at."

If Northwest Cabarrus sounds familiar to Tar Heel supporters, it is likely because former North Carolina star and current Seattle Mariners third baseman, Kyle Seager, played for coach Joe Hubbard at Northwest as well. Hubbard believes the path created by Kyle and his younger brother, Corey, who was drafted 18th overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2012 draft, helped Bigham develop on and off the diamond.

"We've had pretty good teams here in the last couple years and a lot of that has been players like Tanner and the Seager brothers," Hubbard said. "Just the work ethic that the Seager brothers brought out here I think has just transferred over all our players."

While Bigham will certainly be relied on to make plays in the field, his biggest strength is at the plate. He describes himself as a guy who hits for average, but Bigham is also capable of hitting the long ball and has a knack for driving in runs. He always seems to make solid contact with the ball which typically leads to positive results.

"I think he's got gap-to-gap power with surprising home run power, but for the most part he can hit for a high average and drive a lot of doubles in," Hubbard said. "Sort of like another guy that went to Carolina, Kyle Seager, that came through here. A doubles machine."

Last season Bigham hit .419 with six doubles, three triples, six home runs and 17 RBI. This year, the left-handed Bigham will attempt to fill the big shoes of the younger Seager brother, who played shortstop and was the team's leading hitter last season.

Coaches Quotes: "Obviously I think one of the things that stands out to me is his ability to lead our team," Hubbard said. "His leadership ability with young kids and dealing with the young kids that are in our program and being able to do those kind of things that every coach needs as far as the intangibles. As far as his ability, the kid swings it really well. Probably one of the best bats that I've seen come through our program."

"For us we've kind of used him at the leadoff position," Hubbard continued. "This year we see him going to more of a three-hole hitter for us, which would be a player with more power. Like I said earlier, he's a gap-to-gap guy. He's a guy that pretty much puts the barrel on the ball. Each time up there he hits it hard somewhere. As a fielder he's a steady guy. He may not make that flashy play that you see on SportsCenter every night, but you can depend on him to make the routine plays and get outs."

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