CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte’s Ryan Butler has been selected in the 7th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the San Diego Padres on Friday afternoon. Butler becomes the 74th player to be drafted out of the Niners baseball program and the fifth-highest overall. The redshirt junior and product of Ardrey Kell High School was the 207th overall pick and eighth overall from Conference USA at the time of his selection.
“This is a dream come true,” exclaimed Butler. “Conference USA baseball is quite a league with some incredible teams. Honestly, it’s like playing minor league players sometimes because those guys are going to be playing in the pros too. Playing against the level of competition I just played against, has helped me see what I’ll be going up against in pro ball.”
Butler started in 13 appearances of 2014 tossing 83 innings with a 5-7 mark posting a 3.47 earned run average. The season began with Butler carrying a no-hitter through 5.1 innings against Canisius departing after six allowing just a one out single during the previous frame while striking out a season-high seven. The right-hander recorded a team-high two complete games allowing one run on six hits with three strikeouts during a 4-1 win over Evansville on April 5th with a second complete game two starts later allowing one run on four hits with five strikeouts in a 2-1 C-USA win over Tulane.
Butler allowed two or fewer earned runs in eight of his 13 appearances not allowing a single run in his season-opening 6-0 win vs. Canisius or in his season-finale against C-USA foe Southern Miss tossing eight strong surrendering six hits with four strikeouts in an 8-0 shutout. The right-hander issued just 27 walks in his 83 innings pitched which was the fewest among the weekend starters.
Friday marked the second time in as many years being drafted this time a year ago in the 16th round by the New York Yankees. Coming off of Tommy John surgery two years ago and unsure of how his arm would react, Butler opted to stay home at Charlotte for one more collegiate season.
“This is amazing,” remarked Butler. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to play again after the surgery and was rehabbing hoping a school would pick me up. When I started throwing bullpens and realized my arm was coming back the way I wanted it to, I immediately called Charlotte, the only school I called, so I could stay home and play. It just seemed like a perfect fit playing for my hometown.”
“This is a fantastic day for Ryan and for Charlotte 49ers baseball,” commented Head Coach Loren Hibbs. “Ryan has worked extremely hard since he arrived on campus last August and has developed in to an outstanding prospect. Seeing Ryan mature and get rewarded for his efforts is a win for our program and a win for him.”
Butler made the most of his first season at Charlotte and is eligible to return for a senior season if the logistics of signing with San Diego doesn’t work out. Butler gives a lot of credit to pitching coach Brandon Hall for his recent success.
“When I got here (to Charlotte), I was fastball, changeup. Two basic pitches and had a curveball that wasn’t very good. Coach Hall really mentored me, really helped me in my pitch ability, learning how to pitch, when to go inside, when to go outside, he’s really helped me out a lot this year. By the end of the year, I can honestly say I was a completely different pitcher. Same arm, same pitches, but mentally I had just become better. Now I'm ready to go, I'm ready to compete, and I'm ready to prove that I'm good enough.”
Butler, who joins fellow C-USA right-hander Zech Lemond from Rice who was also drafted earlier in the day by San Diego, is a likely candidate right out of the gate to start in either Eugene, Oregon or Fort Wayne, Indiana
SAN DIEGO PADRES FARM SYSTEM
Triple A (Pacific Coast League) – El Paso Chihuahuas
Double A (Texas League) – San Antonio Missions
High A Advanced (California League) – Lake Elsinore Storm
Low A Full Season (Midwest League) – Fort Wayne TinCaps
Short-Season A (Northwest League) – Eugene Emeralds
Rookie (Arizona League) – Arizona League Padres
OTHER CONFERENCE USA MLB DRAFT SELECTIONS
1st Round (9th Overall): Jeff Hoffman, RHP – East Carolina (Toronto Blue Jays)
2nd Round (52nd): Aramis Garcia, C – Florida International (San Francisco Giants)
3rd Round (86th): Zech Lemond, RHP – Rice (San Diego Padres)
4th Round (111th): Ryan Yarbrough, LHP – Old Dominion (Seattle Mariners)
4th Round (135th): Austin Gomber, LHP – Florida Atlantic (St. Louis Cardinals)
6th Round (178th): Skyler Ewing, 1B – Rice (San Francisco Giants)
6th Round (180th): Zac Curtis, LHP – Middle Tennessee (Arizona Diamondbacks)
7th Round (207th): Ryan Butler, RHP – Charlotte (San Diego Padres)