'Surreal Moment:' Hickory High product Jarrett is drafted by Orioles

Cody Dalton
Sports Editor

Zach Jarrett is following in his family’s footsteps, but not on the race track.

The son and grandson of NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale and Ned Jarrett, Zach was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 28th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft on Wednesday.

The former Hickory High School and UNC-Charlotte baseball standout is the second person in his family to play professional baseball — joining his late grandfather Jasper “Jack” Spears, who spent 11 years in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization.

“This means the world,” Jarrett said of being drafted. “My grandfather Jack Spears played baseball, and I always wanted to be like him. I always wanted to follow in his footsteps and be like him. This was surreal. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of it. It was unbelievable.”

Zach was at home in Hickory with family when he received the call of a lifetime.

“The Orioles called me and told me they were thinking about drafting me in the next couple of spots,” Jarrett said. “I was ready to go. I had talked to (the Orioles) throughout the season off and on. Not until today whenever they called me beforehand did I know that’s who would be taking me.

“I want to thank my family and my friends for always supporting me,” he added. “Without them, I wouldn’t be here.”

Zach finished his career with the 49ers this past spring by compiling a career-best .342 batting average with 13 home runs and 45 RBIs.

“Spending four years there helped me develop as a player,” Zach said of his time at UNC-Charlotte. “The coaches were unreal. They helped me develop to what I am today.”

Zach’s best performance during his senior season came on April 29 at UAB when he became the fifth UNC-Charlotte baseball player to hit three home runs in a single game.

Converted into a leadoff hitter through the middle of his senior season, Zach tallied 25 multi-hit games for the 49ers, including eight games with at least three hits or more. He also had 10 games with at least two or more RBIs.

His finishes his baseball career at UNC-Charlotte starting 203-of-205 games and recording 205 hits (27 doubles), 26 home runs, 127 RBIs and 117 runs scored.

“Another guy not drafted out of high school came in here and made himself into a pro,” said UNC-Charlotte head baseball coach Loren Hibbs of Zach Jarrett. “Zach was willing to go play in the summer time to help himself get better and help him developed into the player he is today. Combined with his work ethic, he performed against high level competition this season and got rewarded for it. He kept making adjustments and worked his tail off.”

Zach also credits his time in the Hickory High School and Hickory Post 48 baseball programs with helping his baseball career move forward.

“I’ve had a lot of great coaches through there with (Hickory High School baseball) coach (David) Craft and (Post 48 head) coach (Fore) Rembert,” Zach said. “Each time they were able to help me out in some way and help me get to that next level.”

Zach joins an Orioles organization that includes not only his recently drafted UNC-Charlotte teammate in T.J. Nichting, but also former Bandys standout Hunter Harvey.

“I haven’t talked to (Harvey) much,” Zach said. “It’ll be cool to see Hunter and hopefully play together at some point.”