Lenoir-Rhyne's St. Clair drafted by the Cardinals

Cody Dalton
Sports Editor

For only the second time in school history, Lenoir-Rhyne University has two Major League draft picks in one year.

Bears senior right-handed pitcher Thomas St. Clair was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 24th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft on Wednesday — just one day after teammate John Luke Curtis was selected.

St. Clair was sitting in the basement of his house in his hometown of Winston-Salem when he received his life-changing phone call.

“I got a call from the Cardinals scout T.C. Calhoun,” St. Clair said. “Earlier in the day when the draft started, he told me to be by my phone. He called me later and told me the Cardinals were going to take me. I was able to call everyone around the TV. I had my friends from college and from high school there. It was a good moment.”
St. Clair is happy to not only be drafted, but to be taken by the Cardinals.

“It’s a class act organization,” he said of St. Louis. “It’s one of the organizations I was hoping to get the call from. I’m grateful it happened. It was a dream turned reality.”

This past spring, St. Clair anchored the Bears’ pitching staff, recording a team-high 10 victories on the mound with a 2.28 ERA. He struck out a school-record 116 batters during the season and walked just 31 batters in his 87 innings pitched.

His best outing of the season came on Feb. 24 in a 9-0 road victory against Anderson (S.C.). He struck out 17 batters in the contest — a new program single-game record.

For his record-setting performance, St. Clair was also tabbed the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) NCAA Div. II National Pitcher of the Week.
During the season, St. Clair was awarded as the South Atlantic Conference Pitcher of the Week four times and Southeast Region Pitcher of the Week twice.

The Mount Tabor High School product was named the South Atlantic Conference Pitcher of the Year at the end of the season — the first Bears baseball player to earn that distinction.

St. Clair credits former Lenoir-Rhyne baseball players Ivan Vieitez and Matthew De La Rosa, who were drafted the previous two years, with helping both he and Curtis in gaining added exposure.

“(Vieitez and De La Rosa) put Hickory and LR on the map in a baseball sense,” St. Clair said. “Thanks to those guys, the scouts have been coming back.”

St. Clair also thanks Lenoir-Rhyne pitching coaches Evan Wise and Nick Flachofsky for helping him develop into a better pitcher.

“(Wise and Flachofsky) spend every moment trying to figure out how to make us better,” he said.

Lenoir-Rhyne baseball coach Tom Fleenor is proud of the growth he saw from St. Clair during his stint in the Bears’ baseball program.

“Thomas came a long way in his time at LR, especially from year three to four,” Fleenor said. “I’m not only proud of the pitcher he became, but more so of the man he is now.”

The last time two Lenoir-Rhyne baseball players were taken in the same draft was 1991 when both Michael Tidwell (25th round) and Steve Davis (31st round) were selected by the Chicago Cubs.

St. Clair is proud of the accomplishment that he and Curtis are a part of.

“First off, it’s an amazing feeling for me to be drafted with John Luke,” St. Clair said of Curtis. “That’s my best friend and a guy I’ve been with for four years. I’ve thrown with him every day, talked with him every day and hung out with him every day.

“The past four years, I’ve met an incredible group of people and friends,” he added. “To be with those guys and spend four years with those guys has been amazing.”