Nine Tar Heels Make 2020 MLB Opening Day Rosters

isaacschade

Today is a big day in sports.

It was supposed to be Olympics Eve. The Opening Ceremonies for the Tokyo Games were scheduled to take place tomorrow evening.

But instead, today is “Opening Day” for Major League Baseball.

Rather than happening in the hubbub of Spring, “Opening Day” falls during the dog days of Summer.

We are about to squeeze 60 games per team into just over two months’ time.

Just two games will take place today (Yankees @ Nationals, Giants @ Dodgers) with all other teams starting play on Friday.

As I wrote about earlier in the week, today I will be providing brief capsules of the Tar Heels who are starting the season on an MLB roster. With official rosters now submitted, we know which Heels will begin the season with an MLB club. There are nine of them:

1. Daniel Bard | Colorado Rockies | RP
2. Zac Gallen | Arizona Diamondbacks | SP 
3. Brian Goodwin | Los Angeles Angels | RF 
4. Chris Iannetta | New York Yankees | C
5. Andrew Miller | St. Louis Cardinals | RP
6. Colin Moran | Pittsburgh Pirates | 3B
7. Kyle Seager | Seattle Mariners | 3B 
8. Jacob Stallings | Pittsburgh Pirates | Catcher
9. Trent Thornton | Toronto Blue Jays | SP

What follows is a brief bio of all nine players.

Daniel Bard | Rockies | RP | #52

Bard played at Carolina from 2004-06 and was drafted in the first round by the Red Sox. This will be his sixth year in the majors, but first since 2013. He is coming back to the majors after a seven-year absence due to the Yips (a psychological inability to throw the baseball with usual control). In 2011, he had a string of 25 straight scoreless appearances (a Red Sox record). Bard’s is the early feel-good story of the 2020 season.

Zac Gallen | Diamondbacks | SP | #23

Gallen played at Carolina from 2014-16 and was drafted in the third round by the Cardinals. He made his MLB debut last season with the Marlins and started seven games, amassing a 1-3 record. Gallen was eventually traded to the Diamondbacks where he made eight starts with a 2-3 record. In his first full season in the majors, Gallen projects to be the Diamondbacks third or fourth starter.

Brian Goodwin | Angels | RF | #18

Goodwin played at Carolina just his freshman season (2010) and was eventually drafted by the Nationals in the first round of the 2011 draft. This will be Goodwin’s fifth season in the majors and second with the Angels. He is projected as the starting right fielder alongside Mike Trout and Justin Upton.

Chris Iannetta | Yankees | C | #22

Iannetta played at Carolina from 2002-04 and was drafted by the Rockies in the fourth round of the 2004 draft. This will mark his 15 MLB season, but first with the Yankees after coming off his second stint with the Rockies. Iannetta will be the Yankees’ third-string catcher, behind Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka. At 37, Iannetta’s best playing days are behind him, but he brings invaluable leadership experience in the clubhouse, which should pay dividends in what will assuredly be one of the strangest seasons on record.

Andrew Miller | Cardinals | RP | #21

Miller played at Carolina from 2004-06 and was drafted sixth overall by the Tigers in 2006. He is a two-time All-Star and heading into his 15 season and second with the Cardinals (seventh team). Miller won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2013. Miller projects as one of the top two relievers for the Cardinals.

Colin Moran | Pirates | 3B | #19

Moran played at Carolina from 2011-13 and was drafted sixth overall (same as Andrew Miller) by the Marlins in 2013. After being traded to the Astros, Moran made his MLB debut on May 17, 2016. He’s now embarking on his fifth MLB season and third with the Pirates. Moran will be the starting third baseman in the same infield where fellow Tar Heel Jacob Stallings will start at catcher. There is also speculation that he could fill the DH role from time to time since the NL has now adopted that position.

Kyle Seager | Mariners | 3B | #15

Seager played at Carolina from 2007-09 and was drafted in the third round by the Mariners in 2009. In fact, he’s played his entire career for Seattle, now beginning year 10. Seager won a Gold Glove in 2014 and was an All-Star the same year. His younger brothers, Corey and Justin, were also MLB draft picks. Seager will continue to be the Mariners starting third baseman.

Jacob Stallings | Pirates | C | #58

Stallings played at Carolina from ?? and was drafted by the Pirates in the seventh round of the 2012 draft. He has played his entire career in Pittsburgh, where he is starting his fifth Major League season. Stallings debuted in the majors on June 19 of 2016. Stallings is the son of well-known college basketball coach Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt, Pittsburgh).

Trent Thornton | Blue Jays | SP | #57

Thornton played at Carolina from 2013-15 and was drafted in the fifth round by the Astros in 2015. He made his Major League debut on March 31 of last year. Thornton begins his second year in the majors at the tail end of the Blue Jays rotation. Last year Thornton pitched in 32 games, starting 29 of them. He finished the season 6-9 with a 4.84 ERA and a 1.406 WHIP. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays are currently homeless after they were disallowed from playing Toronto and a deal with Pittsburgh fell through. Hopefully, Thornton and his teammates will soon have a place to call home for the next two months.

Make sure to check in on these Heels in action as they begin their season this weekend.

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