HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Coker College baseball player Zach Loraine was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 21st round (No. 635 overall) of the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Saturday. Loraine is the first player to be drafted from Coker since 1994, when pitcher John Crowther was selected in the second round by the Toronto Blue Jays.
"To be drafted by the Cardinals, my hometown team, is truly a dream come true," Loraine said. "I am completely speechless. It is a great honor to be the second player drafted under Dave Schmotzer and the Coker College baseball program. This would not be possible without my coaches, teammates and the community at Coker, and I cannot thank them enough. I am beyond thankful for this opportunity to continue my career. I am excited to get to work as a Cardinal."
Loraine, a junior, is a right-handed pitcher who served as the Cobras' closer and designated hitter this season. Loraine transferred to Coker this season after spending two years as a catcher at Lindenwood University. He converted to a pitcher this season and consistently registered between 92-94 MPH on a radar gun. He is listed on Baseball America's Top 500 Prospect, sitting at No. 476.
In just one season at Coker, Loraine made his impact both on the mound and at the plate. On the mound, Loraine posted a record of 5-2 with 15 saves and a 2.66 ERA. He appeared in 28 games and struck out 68 batters over 64 1-3 innings. His 15 saves were second-best in Division II, and also set a school record, breaking the previous number of eight held by Crowther.
As the team's cleanup hitter, Loraine finished with a .328 average, three home runs, three triples, 15 doubles, 37 RBIs and 51 runs scored. He also had a .500 slugging percentage and stole 21 bases in 22 attempts.
"Zach is such a tremendous talent and impact player," said head baseball coach Dave Schmotzer. "We may never see another player like him here. There's no way we have the success we had this season without Zach Loraine this year. He has an uncanny ability to get better and perform well under high-pressure situations.
"I'm so proud to have been able to coach such a fine young man. The Cardinals are getting a first-class worker and an even better individual. We wish him the best of luck and will certainly be following his journey."
Off the field, Loraine collected several honors. He was named an honorable mention All-American by Daktronics, second team all-region by the American Baseball Coaches Association, first team all-region by Daktronics and a second team all-region pick by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Loraine was also been the NCBWA Southeast pitcher of the week and the Conference Carolinas pitcher of the week.
In 2013, the Coker baseball team went 38-16 overall and 14-9 in Conference Carolinas. The Cobras won the conference tournament and the NCAA Southeast regional tournament. They earned a trip to the 2013 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship in Cary, N.C., for the first time in program history. Coker finished seventh in the eight-team tournament.
In the Southeast regional tournament, Loraine was lights out, tossing a total of 5 1-3 innings of shutout baseball. He allowed three hits and struck out nine. Loraine earned the win against third-ranked USC Aiken and a save against No. 1-ranked Mount Olive College. On offense he hit .421 with four RBIs, five runs and a stolen base.
Loraine also closed out the Conference Carolinas championship game by throwing three scoreless frames with three strikeouts against King College. His final punchout came to end the game and secure the title.
While at Coker, Loraine majored in physical education and sport studies with a concentration in exercise science. He is originally from Lake St. Louis, Mo., where he attended Fort Zumwalt West high School.
Zach is the son of Lance and Eva Loraine.
"I don't even know where to begin," Eva Loraine said. "I think it's been a dream Zach has had since he was about 4 years old, and it's even more special now to be the Cardinals. It all turned out the way it was supposed to. It's pretty awesome sitting from my view and seeing my kids' dream come true."
Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the "Best Colleges" in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.