With the 7th pick of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft, the Arizona Diamondbacks selected sweet swinging Pavin Smith, junior first baseman out of the University of Virginia.
— Wells Dusenbury (@DuseReport) June 12, 2017
The Diamondbacks assured the Virginia baseball program of four straight years with at least one first round draft pick. The Hoos weren’t done yet, though. The very next pick …
— Phillies (@Phillies) June 12, 2017
A pair of position players from the same school haven’t been selected in the top 10 in 29 years, when Oklahoma State’s Monty Fariss and Robin Ventura were taken in the 1988 MLB Draft. That’s quite a feat for Smith and Haseley, who as true freshmen in 2015 played significant roles in helping Virginia capture a National Championship.
MLB.com draft and prospect expert Jim Callis wrote about both picks in his first round analysis.
Of Smith, Callis wrote: It was no secret that the D-backs would probably wind up with one of the two University of Virginia hitters, and they opted for the more potent bat with Smith, as opposed to the more athletic Adam Haseley, an outfielder whom Pipeline ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the class (we had Smith at No. 8) and that went with the very next pick. Some clubs thought Smith’s combination of hitting ability and power made him the best offensive player in the Draft.
Of Haseley, Callis wrote: Another two-way player, Haseley was a pitching hero at the 2015 College World Series when the Cavaliers took home the title, but he’ll be purely a center fielder as a pro. He stands out as a college up-the-middle player in a Draft that’s thin in that regard, and is one of the best pure hitters available. Haseley and Pavin Smith are the first position players from the same college to both go in the top 10 since Oklahoma State’s Monty Fariss (No. 6 overall) and Robin Ventura (No. 10) in 1988.
Three years ago, Smith turned down an opportunity to play professional baseball to attend Virginia. He was drafted in the 32nd Round in the 2014 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies but decided to go to Charlottesville. Smith reflected on his decision and the time he spent in Charlottesville and playing for head coach Brian O’Connor.
“It beyond exceeded my expectations,” Smith said. “I had Coach O’Connor in my house I remember three years ago, trying to convince me to come here instead of playing pro ball. I was telling him it was definitely the best decision of my life. Not only growing as a baseball player, but as a man in general.”
Haseley said he’ll “always look back and be grateful” for his time at UVA, which again began with such a special run. “Grateful,” Haseley said, is the word that stuck with him most when he discussed the past three years with O’Connor.
Virginia’s draft success continued as pitcher Tommy Doyle was drafted by the Colorado Rockies No. 70 overall. The 6’6” junior has served as O’Connor’s closer for the better part of the last two seasons. The draft continues today (June 12) and runs through Wednesday (June 13). Click here to follow the rest of the action.