College Baseball: Jarrett to play for Seahawks

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 15, 2011

By Mike London
SALISBURY — The road has twisted and curved and detoured for more than three years, but East Rowan graduate Micah Jarrett never lost his way.
“It hasn’t been quite the route I would’ve chosen,” Jarrett said. “But sometimes you get a deal you don’t expect, and you still have to try to make the most of it. All that really matters is where I am now, and I’m happy with where I am now.”
Where Jarrett will be next week is at UNC Wilmington. He’ll be a junior when classes start, and he’s expected to make an impact on the Seahawks baseball team.
Jarrett, who turns 22 next month, nearly signed with UNC Wilmington way back in the spring of 2008, but he had such an incredible senior year that Boston College and Wake Forest started pursuing him. As a junior, he was good, but as a senior center fielder and shortstop he’d added muscle and speed. He batted .410 for the 3A runner-ups, with six homers and a county-high 39 RBIs.
When the ACC calls, local athletes answer. Jarrett chose the Demon Deacons. Winston-Salem was a lot closer to home than Boston.
The summer before he left for Wake, Jarrett was terrific for the Rowan Legion team. He caught everything in center field, stole bases and whacked eight homers.
He stayed warm at Wake, forcing his way into the lineup at leadoff. He had two hits at nationally ranked Clemson. He got into 30 games before knee and shoulder injuries shut him down.
Jarrett returned to the field in the summer of 2009 with the Gastonia Grizzlies of the wood bat Coastal Plain League. He was hitting, but his shoulder was killing him. The diagnosis was a torn labrum, a major injury that usually afflicts pitchers.
“Just wear and tear,” Jarrett says. “Wear and tear from playing baseball every day since I was able to walk.”
Surgery was required. It went well, but Jarrett wouldn’t be throwing full throttle for at least nine months.
That meant no fall workouts, and Wake had changed coaches. The season would be well under way before he could make any sort of impression, and he couldn’t bear thoughts of sitting and wasting a year of eligibility.
That led him to transfer to Pitt Community College in Greenville, N.C., a big-time junior college program. The bookwork wasn’t as demanding as it was at Wake. That was important. He needed time to rehab.
Pitt had tried to sign Jarrett as a high school senior, so he knew the coaches. He also had friends at Pitt — East teammates Trey Holmes and Zach Smith.
While Pitt made a run to the Junior College World Series in 2010 (it tangled with College of Southern Nevada and Bryce Harper), Jarrett rehabbed his shoulder.
Nearing 100 percent, he returned to the Coastal Plain League with the Asheboro Copperheads last summer.
This spring, he was one of Pitt’s stars, batting .370 with 40 RBIs for a 38-13 team. He went 7-for-17 in the league tournament in front of pro scouts. His clutch RBI gave Pitt the championship.
Jarrett made the all-region team. His most impressive stats were subtle. He didn’t make an error in center field all season and didn’t hit into a single double play.
“Pitt was good for me,” he said. “I got to play on a great team — we were one game away from the World Series — and I got a chance to prove I was healthy. And now I’ve got great opportunities to keep on playing.”
Jarrett turned down early offers from Liberty and Campbell, waiting on pins and needles because UNC, UNC Wilmington and East Carolina were all interested.
Those high-powered programs wanted to wait to see if they had outfielders drafted by the big leagues in June. UNC Wilmington offered Jarrett after Andrew Cain was picked by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 12th round.
“Micah’s a great, five-tool player, a heck of a talent,” East coach Brian Hightower said. “He always played so hard for us, and I’m just happy for him. I know it’s been a long path to get there.”
Jarrett could have his own draft day down the road. He’s received letters from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles, and he’s talked to plenty of scouts. They know who he is.
Jarrett, who has overcome asthma as well as his shoulder, is unusually talented. He weighs 185 solid pounds but can run blazing 6.6 60s.
“My arm is back now stronger than it ever was before, and I’ve never lost any speed,” he said. “Everyone tells me my arm and my speed are my tools.”
Talking to Jarrett you get the feeling he’s finally at peace with himself, but he’s also driven to keep pushing.
“What’s humbling is that so many people have never stopped believing in me, and I want to succeed for all of them, not just for myself,” Jarrett said. “Sure, I want to be a good college player, but I want more. Every kid dreams about the major leagues. That’s still my goal. It’s never changed.”