Brett Centracchio Signs with High Point Rockers

The former UNC first baseman made his professional debut Friday

When the COVID-19 pandemic brought the sports world to a halt in March 2020, Brett Centracchio thought his baseball career was over.

Sixteen months later, it’s still going strong.

After using the extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted student-athletes during the pandemic to play for North Carolina in 2021, Centracchio signed a free agent contract with the High Point Rockers of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) on Friday, the team announced. It didn’t take long for the Davidson grad transfer to find himself in the Rockers’ lineup, as he started Friday’s game at designated hitter and went 0-for-2 with a hit by pitch and a run scored.

Centracchio is the fourth member of UNC’s 2021 team to enter professional baseball, joining MLB Draft picks Austin Love, Caleb Roberts and Justice Thompson.

From 2017-20, Centracchio played in 155 games at Davidson, making 141 starts. The Alpharetta, Georgia native hit .268/.353/.468 with 27 home runs and 111 RBIs. He was voted the 2017 Davidson Baseball Rookie of the Year by his teammates after helping the Wildcats sweep the Chapel Hill Regional and advance to super regional play in their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

Brett Centracchio on his UNC experience

In his lone season as a Tar Heel, Centracchio slashed .250/.297/.465 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs in 47 games. On April 12, the first baseman blasted two home runs in a nine-run fifth inning against Duke, becoming the first UNC player to hit two homers in an inning since Chris Maples did so on March 23, 2002, against Florida State. At 460 feet, Centracchio’s second home run of the inning was the longest tracked by UNC’s analytics team from a Tar Heel (data goes back to 2015). Centracchio played a pivotal role in UNC’s late push for an NCAA Tournament bid, and went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored in the Tar Heels’ lone regional win over UCLA.

Now in its 24th season, the ALPB signed a working agreement with MLB in 2019, permitting MLB to test experimental playing rules and equipment during Atlantic League games. In September 2020, the ALPB became the first MLB Partner League, extending the independent circuit’s relationship in terms of rules testing into areas such as joint marketing and promotional opportunities. Since the ALPB’s inception, more than 950 of its players have signed contracts with big league organizations.

Centracchio joins former UNC standout Michael Russell on the Rockers’ roster. Russell was placed on the injured list Friday with a broken jaw.