HIGH POINT, N.C. – Junior Chris Clare and senior Tyler Britton of the High Point University baseball team were both selected on the final day of the 2016 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft on Saturday, June 11. Clare was picked in the 21st round by the Baltimore Orioles and Britton was picked by the Houston Astros in the 23rd round.
“This is another exciting day for High Point University baseball,” head coach Craig Cozart said. “Chris Clare and Tyler Britton being drafted is a credit to their ability and work ethic as well as a telling sign of the development of this program. They are both first-class individuals and it always makes you proud to see men like this get great opportunities. We look forward to following their careers in the future.”
Clare started 55 games at shortstop for the Panthers in 2016, leading the team with a .345 batting average and 39 runs scored and earning first-team All-Big South honors. Clare recorded a hit in all but 10 games and was held hitless just twice in conference play. In three seasons at HPU, the Fort Mill, S.C., native has appeared in 155 games with 151 starts and hit .320 with 26 doubles, five home runs, 78 RBI and 99 runs scored.
“It is a dream come true to be drafted,” Clare said. “The moment it came was more exciting than I thought it would be. This wouldn’t have happened without my coaches and teammates at High Point as well as my family. I also need to thank god because he is the one that gave me the ability to play. I am lucky and blessed to have people in my corner that made sacrifices and gave me an opportunity to prove myself.”
Britton was the Panthers’ top arm out of the bullpen in his senior season, appearing in 19 games for HPU. He led the team with a .226 opponent batting average and finished second on the squad with a 2.93 ERA. The right-hander struck out 59 batters in 55-1/3 innings while walking just 10 and giving up only eight extra-base hits. The Jamestown, N.C., native played two seasons with High Point after transferring from Pitt Community College. He appeared in 35 games with five starts and finished his Panther career with a 9-2 record and five saves. Britton pitched 98-2/3 innings over two seasons and struck out 90 while posting a 3.19 ERA.
“It is hard to put into words accomplishing something you have worked for your entire life,” Britton said. “The support of my family and friends as well as the coaches as High Point helped make this possible. I remember when I visited HPU and Coach Cozart told me I had the ability to play professionally. Having a coach that believed in me like that drew me to High Point and I have grown a lot during my two years. Even over the last two weeks, Coach Cozart has come out and thrown with me and caught my bullpens. You won’t find many coaches willing to help their players so much and I am extremely grateful.”
Clare and Britton are the second and third High Point baseball players selected in the 2016 MLB Draft. Junior Andre Scrubb was selected in the eighth round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The three players selected in the draft this season marks the second-most HPU players picked in a single draft in the Div. I era (2000-present) and the most since four players were picked in 2013.
Two former Panther players are currently playing in Major League Baseball organizations. 2011 draftee Cody Allen is the closer with the Cleveland Indians and 2013 draftee Jaime Schultz is a starting pitcher with the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.