North Carolina’s Caleb Roberts catching on with Lightning

The Delray Beach Lightning is currently the hottest team in the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League. They nailed their ninth victory in the last 10 games. For the 18-6 rout over the South Division-leading West Boca Snappers on Monday, they leaned on catcher Caleb Roberts.

One of the catalysts of that victory, Roberts, went 3-for-4 with four RBIs. He raised his batting average to .341 for the summer. Roberts has spent the summer working to return to his original position after spending his collegiate career at right field for the North Carolina Tar Heels.

“Getting the reps here in the [SFCBL] has helped a lot,” Roberts said, “and catching every day has given me a chance to show scouts, and myself really, that I can catch at this level.”

Prospect Watch: C Caleb Roberts

Caleb Roberts arrived to North Carolina as a catcher. A knee injury, though, forced him to adjust to the outfield during his freshman year. He played in 54 games, started 40 of them for the 46-19 Tar Heels. He batted .227 with 23 runs, 17 RBI and a .374 on-base percentage. But perhaps his most memorable moment from that season came in the ACC Tournament opener against Virginia.

Roberts entered the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the tenth inning with the bases loaded. He was hit by a pitch, making it a painful, yet rewarding walk-off winner. In order for the Tar Heels to continue on towards their conference championship run, Roberts had to literally take one for the team.

He played only in the season opening series of the 2020 spring that was cut off after 19 games due to the COVID-19 outbreak. After the Cape Cod League cancelled their season, summer baseball in the wake of the pandemic was not a sure thing. For Roberts, getting to play in the SFCBL makes up for losing his sophomore season.

South Florida Roots

“Having the chance to play down here in one of the only leagues going on in the entire country is a great experience,” Roberts said.

Like many of the players in the SFCBL, Roberts is a South Florida native. He won the FHSAA 8A State Championship in 2018 with St Thomas Aquinas in a senior year worthy of the title “Mr. Baseball.” That year he was ranked the No. 6 catching prospect in Florida by Perfect Game after batting .494 with a .988 slugging percentage, 53 RBI and six home runs.

Beating his old rivals again and winning the league title for the Lightning would certainly mean a lot to Roberts.

“I played with a bunch of these kids in high school and played against them in travel ball,” Roberts said. “To win would be pretty cool.”

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