Several Charlotte baseball players were named to their respective summer league’s all-star games and a few former 49ers are experiencing success at the next level. The Major League Baseball Amateur Draft saw a pair of juniors get selected and decide to start their pro careers early, while a Charlotte commitment opted to attend school in 2013-14.
Justin Seager (Kannapolis, N.C. / Northwest Cabarrus HS) was Charlotte’s highest pick this season, going in the 12th round to Seattle. The Atlantic 10 Conference Co-Player of the Year signed and was assigned to Everett (Wash.) of the Class-A Northwest League. Seager has been a mainstay in the Aquasox lineup, playing in 26 of the team’s 30 games so far this season, fourth-most on the squad. He is third on the team with a pair of home runs and is tied for third with a dozen RBI. His 24 hits are fourth-most on the team so far in his first professional summer.
Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C.) was picked in the 14th round by the Chicago White Sox, signed, and was assigned to Bristol (Va.) of the Class-A Appalachian League. He has six strikeouts in six appearances, with a 1-1 record, a save and a 3.38 earned run average. If the White Sox are like most clubs, they will tap the brakes on Barnette’s first summer, as he was Charlotte’s Friday starter, making 15 starts and pitching 95.1 innings in his collegiate season.
Former Niner Miguel Rodriguez (Cape Coral, Fla.) got his first hit of the summer for the Lowell (Mass.) Spinners on Monday, July 15, but it was a walk-off single in the ninth for the win over Jamestown for his first RBI of the summer. The Boston prospect plays his second summer in the Red Sox organization after a 36th-round selection in 2012, Charlotte’s only pick from that year’s draft.
The deadline to sign draft picks came early this year, July 12, and the date passed without the New York Yankees able to sign Charlotte commitment Ryan Butler (Charlotte, N.C. / Marshall Univ. / Ardrey Kell HS). The 16th-round pick was the lowest pick the Yankees were unable to get into a pro contract. After going through surgery more than a year ago, he did not pitch last season, but did workout for the Yankees this spring after completing his rehabilitation. They were impressed enough to draft him with the 494th pick. The Yankees tried hard near the deadline to get Butler to sign, but the former High School All-American and son of pro pitcher Mike Butler decided to pitch for the 49ers and compete in Conference USA with the hopes to improve his draft stock in 2014. He will be a redshirt junior when the team takes the field next February.
Charlotte has had a pair of current players named to their respective summer league’s all-star game so far in 2013. Rising junior Brad Elwood (Indian Trail, N.C. / Piedmont HS) was named to the Coastal Plains League All-Star Game, played on July 8. Elwood has played 29 of the Florence Red Wolves’ 32 contests this summer, sitting second at .311 on the team. He leads the team with 21 runs scored. Elwood played 59 of Charlotte’s 60 games this season, finishing second with a .343 average. He led the Niners with 80 hits and finished second with 14 doubles and three homers. He was the third-toughest player to strikeout in Division I this past season, fanning just 10 times in 233 at bats.
Rising senior Hunter May (Cornelius, N.C. / Marshall Univ. / Hopewell HS) was named to the Northwoods League All-Star Game, which will take place Monday, July 22. May, playing for the Madison mallards, lead the league with 11 saves in his 17 appearances and a sub-two earned run average. May led the team and tied for second in the A-10 Conference with eight wins, more than any reliever in the league. He led Charlotte with 29 appearances and the 8-1 record.
Charlotte returns to Conference USA in 2014, and the league features 10 weekends of conference play. The 49ers start the 2014 campaign at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium, named the best college ballpark in North Carolina and 14th in the country by Stadium Journey.com, with a home series starting in mid-February.