Commitment Profile: Chris Munnelly

When former UNC baseball player Chris Cox took over the head coaching job at Forsyth Country Day, just outside of Winston-Salem, N.C., he heard about a right handed pitcher on his team that had verbally committed to play at his alma mater.

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"I met Chris Munnelly at a basketball game and in walks this skinny 165 pound kid..." Cox recalled of the first time he saw the 6-2 pitcher. "Then in practice later he gets on the mound and starts throwing and it is amazing. The upside on him is they will put 15 to 20 pounds on him when he gets to Carolina and he then will be throwing in the mid to upper 90's - he is throwing in the low 90's right now. I think his breaking ball is his best pitch and in addition he has an above average changeup."

Munnelly throws a two- and four-seam fastball, curveball and split finger change from a 3/4 arm slot. Last season at Forsyth he had a 2.39 earned run average and led his team with 59 strikeouts. In addition to his work on the mound, he played third base and batted .534 and led his team with 10 stolen bases. During the summer with the Dirtbags team he amassed a 9-0 record with 0.56 earned run average, including 39 strikeouts in 33 innings pitched.

"Just being able to play with the best players in the state really makes you a better player," Munnelly said of his time with the Dirtbags. "Coach Andy Partin is an awesome guy - he is just like another kid out there on the field."

Munnelly is rated in the top 300 prospects in the 2009 class by Perfect Game and was an All-Conference and All-County selection during his junior season at Forsyth.

He recalls that he began getting letters from baseball programs in the fall of his sophomore year. "From the moment I got my first letter from North Carolina I knew I wanted to go to Carolina," he said. "I have always been a Carolina fan. Once they had me in for my second unofficial visit and they offered me, I committed on the spot." He chose the Tar Heels over scholarship offers from Wake Forest and Virginia Tech.

In addition to playing baseball, Munnelly starred on the hardwood as a guard on the basketball team – coached by former Wake Forest three-sport standout Rusty Larue -- since his freshman year, but expects to concentrate solely on baseball this season. "The second I told [Coach Larue that I committed to North Carolina] he gave me a big high five - he just loves that I picked an ACC school," Munnelly said. "After that at basketball practice he made me run a couple of suicides for not picking Wake Forest..."

Munnelly plans to enroll at North Carolina next summer and states that it would take a lot for a major league team to change his plans, "With the academics at North Carolina … I would love to have a degree from an institution like the University of North Carolina before going pro especially considering the state of the economy right now," he says. "It would take a lot to pull me away from North Carolina."

He's on a weight-gain workout, as suggested by the UNC staff, and is focusing on being physically ready for college ball.

"I have gained five pounds since the beginning of school," Munnelly said. "I eat non-stop and do hard workouts after school. I drink three protein shakes a day now and am doing anything I can to gain weight."

"I will do whatever I can do to get on the field, even if it is just pitching a couple of innings my freshman year. I look just to get out there and I will do anything I can to play. I want to get back to Omaha and be there when the Tar Heels win the championship."

Munnelly took his official visit to UNC at the end of August, on the weekend of the Tar Heel football game against McNeese State.

"It was an awesome experience, because you do not know many of the players on the team when you first go up there," he said. "I was kind of nervous about meeting everybody and seeing how I would fit in and everything. It is just like a big family up there... they are real welcoming and made me feel like I was already on the team."

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