College of Charleston right-handed ace Taylor Clarke was the first name called on day two of the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft, selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks as the first pick of the third round and the 76th pick overall.
Clarke becomes the highest-ever Cougar draftee, topping Brett Gardner who was also drafted in the third round (109th overall) by the New York Yankees in 2005. College of Charleston third baseman Carl Wise was the 122nd overall selection in the draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, becoming the third-highest selection in program history.
“I’m really excited to get the opportunity to go and play at the next level,” said Clarke. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed about growing up playing baseball, and now I’ve taken the next big step. To be the College’s highest pick is definitely an honor, especially given the caliber of guys who have played here.”
Clarke finishes his Cougar career with a 2.10 ERA and 23-5 record over 35 appearances and 218.1 innings pitched. His opponents finished with a .200 lifetime average against him, as he struck out 235 hitters and walked just 45 during his time with the Cougars. His career numbers – despite only having two years to accrue them – rank in the top 10 all-time at the College in innings pitched, victories, strikeouts, ERA, decisions and winning percentage.
During the 2015 season, Clarke was one of the most prolific pitchers in the nation and was named a Louisville Slugger All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, a Dick Howser Trophy Semifinalist, Golden Spikes Award Semifinalist, and the Colonial Athletic Association Pitcher of the Year. He set College of Charleston single-season records for victories (13) and strikeouts (143).
He becomes the 59th College of Charleston player to sign a professional contract, and the second with the Diamondbacks, joining Kyle Owings who signed a free-agent deal with Arizona in 2012.