Charlotte’s two juniors selected in the Major League Baseball draft have signed pro contracts and were both assigned to their respective minor league teams this week to forego their senior collegiate seasons and begin their professional careers.
Atlantic 10 Conference Co-Player of the Year Justin Seager (Kannapolis, N.C. / Northwest Cabarrus HS) was selected in the 12th round by the Seattle Mariners (pick 357) as the first Charlotte player selected this year. He signed a minor league contract and has been assigned to the Everett (Wash.) AquaSox. Seager had a signing at Safeco Field, including a batting practice session on the field ahead of his assignment to the AquaSox.
Junior right-handed pitcher Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C.) was selected in the 14th round by the Chicago White Sox (pick 423), his second selection in the draft after being picked by the Red Sox in the ninth round out of high school. He flew to Chicago to sign a pro contract and has been assigned to the Bristol (Va.) White Sox of the Appalachian League, which began its season Thursday.
Seager also earned First-Team All-Atlantic 10 after finishing as the league leader in doubles (tied for 14th nationally with 22 at the end of the regular season), as well as finishing second in runs scored (46), third in batting average (.351) and on-base percentage (.439), fourth in total bases (109), tied for seventh in RBI (40) and 10th in walks (30) in the league. Seager played left field, first base and third base for Charlotte, one of only two players to play an infield and outfield position this season. He is the third of the Seager clan to be drafted, with older brother Kyle already playing for the Seattle Mariners out of North Carolina in 2009 and younger brother Corey playing in the minors for the Dodgers after his draft selection last year out of high school.
Barnette is a former Freshman All-American and A-10 Rookie of the Year. He has amassed an 18-8 record with Charlotte and a career earned run average of 3.37 in 43 starts. His ERA and games started total are ranked seventh in program history, while the 18 wins are tied for 10th-most at Charlotte. He has recorded 148 strikeouts in 235 innings pitched in three seasons with the 49ers.
These two pushes Charlotte’s grand total to 64 players to sign with and play for a Major League affiliated team.
Also drafted in early June was former Ardrey Kell standout Ryan Butler, who earlier this summer committed to Charlotte. Butler posted a 15-6 mark in three seasons at AKHS, with a 3.10 earned run average and 138 strikeouts. He was named MVP of the 2009 State Championships after tossing a complete-game four-hit shutout in the title game to give Ardrey Kell its first state championship in 2009, the third year of existence for the newly-built high school. He went on to help District Six to the Gold Medal of the 2009 State Games, after he started the tournament with a win in their opening game.
Butler was drafted in the 16th round by the New York Yankees, but has indicated to the Charlotte staff that he intends to come to school after accepting admission earlier this year.
The 49ers are coming off their fifth Atlantic 10 Conference title in eight years of league membership. Charlotte baseball will return to Conference USA in the spring of 2014.