LUBBOCK, Texas (June 8, 2013) – Saturday was the most active day for Lubbock Christian University baseball and the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, as a program single-draft record four Chaparrals were selected by Major League Baseball programs. Fabian Roman (Cincinnati Reds), Christian Vazquez (Toronto Blue Jays), Jace Chancellor (San Diego Padres) and Derek Loera (Tampa Bay Rays) were each selected.
Roman was the top Chap selected in the draft, chosen in the 16th round by the Cincinnati Reds as the 495th overall selection in the draft. The right-handed pitcher pitched his junior season in 2012 with Northwestern State (La.) and transferred to LCU. Due to an academic eligibility issue with his transfer, he was redshirted this season and did not compete for the 2013 Chaps. The Jersey City, N.J. native who played his junior college ball at Odessa College, is the fourth Chap all-time to be drafted by the Reds. Will Stramp was selected by the Reds in the 33rd round in 2009. Former Chaps infielder Tim Belk was selected by the Reds in 1992 (15th round) and made his MLB debut in 1996.
Vazquez was selected in the 19th round by the Toronto Blue Jays. The Chaps shortstop was the 565th overall selection. This season, Vazquez completed his junior season with the Chaparrals and was one of two players to play in all 61 games this season. The Humacao, Puerto Rico native hit .402 this season for the Chaps with a team-leading 97 hits (second in the NAIA). He ranked fourth in total bases (137), fifth in runs scored (63), doubles (23), hits per game (1.6) and sixth in total at-bats (241). The shortstop was also solid defensively, ranking 10th in assists (175) and with just nine errors on the season. He is the second Chaps member to be drafted by the Blue Jays. The last was Chris Holguin in the 14th round of the 2008 draft.
The San Diego Padres selected Chancellor as the 838th overall selection and it came in the 28th round. Chancellor pitched at Ranger College and Clarendon College before arriving at Wayland Baptist University, where he appeared in seven games in 2012. The tall right hander transferred to LCU prior to the 2013 season and was redshirted. The Slaton, Texas native was not allowed to participate during the season due to in-conference transfer policies. He is the third Chap selected by San Diego. The Padres drafted Gary Poynter (39th round) in 2008 and Steve Watkins (16th round) in 1998. Watkins made his MLB debut in 2004.
The final Chap selected was Derek Loera, who was selected 10 picks after Chancellor at the 848th selection (also in the 28th round). The Tampa Bay Rays chose the Odessa, Texas native. Loera, a left-handed pitcher, completed his junior season in 2013 with a 2.98 ERA. He was on the bump for 15 games (all starts) and went 10-4 with 89 strikeouts in 93.2 innings. Loera held opponents to a .231 batting average. His 10 wins ranked 18th in the NAIA and his 89 strikeouts placed him 19th. LCU has had three former players sign free-agent contracts with the Rays (Eric Benavidez the last in 1997), but Loera is the first Chap to be drafted by the Rays.
The four draftees place the number of Chaparrals selected in the MLB Draft at 36, with 12 selected under the head coaching reigns of Nathan Blackwood. Prior to this season's draft, the most Chaps selected during a draft was three (1985 and 2008). LCU ranked tied for fifth amongst Texas based four-year universities with their four selections, as their selections matched Houston, Texas A&M and the University of Texas. Dallas Baptist and Texas Christian University each led the state with six drafted. Seven players from Sooner Athletic Conference programs were selected, with four representing LCU.
Five former Chaps are currently playing professional baseball, with one playing in an affiliated system. Buck Britton, a 35th round selection in 2008, continues to play in the Baltimore Orioles system and is currently riding a five-game hit streak with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides. He has six home runs on the season, with three with Norfolk. Britton is batting a combined .293 for the season, with a .280 batting average in 24 games with the Tides. Jakob Cunningham (Grand Prairie), Chris Holguin (Amarillo), J.J. Muse (El Paso) and Joe Staley (Grand Prairie) are playing in independent leagues.