First-round pick Pavin Smith excited for opportunity with Diamondbacks
Chances are it will at least be a couple of years before Pavin Smith plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But Monday night, when the D-backs chose him seventh overall in the 2017 MLB Player Draft, was all about the moment.
“I guess just my family,” Smith told Doug and Wolf on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station Tuesday of who he thought of first. “They’ve been there through the whole thing.
“And also thanking God for this opportunity and him blessing me with this. I just stood up, my mom and dad, they were trying to hold their emotions back. My mom was crying — just, normal things.”
Smith seems to be anything but normal, though.
In three seasons at Virginia, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound first baseman/outfielder hit .325 with 28 home runs, 178 RBI and an on-base percentage of .402. In 2017 he batted .342 while slugging 13 home runs and driving in 77.
He posted an OBP of .427 and struck out just 12 times.
This is not the first time Smith has been drafted, as the Colorado Rockies chose him in the 32nd round of the 2014 draft while he was in high school. He said he is excited for the opportunity he will have with the Diamondbacks whenever that comes, but noted for now his plan is to hopefully get to a game soon and take some batting practice at Chase Field.
He does not know exactly when that will all take place, but admitted he’s really not all that concerned. He will take things as they come, he said, and when it comes to any comparisons to D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, he has not heard much.
However, Smith said like Goldschmidt, he is a man of faith who can take a leadership role when necessary.
“I’m not really like a rah rah guy, but definitely lead by example,” he said. “If things get out of hand I will say something, but more of a lead-by-example guy.”
Smith did just that with Virginia, where he leaves with the second-most RBI in school history, tied for sixth in career home runs and eighth in total bases.
He was named First-Team All-ACC at first base in 2017 after being on the second team in 2016, and this past season was a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award.
Asked to rank his strengths, he began with the kind of person he is.
“Being able to deal with adversity and I think that’s something that’s big in baseball because baseball is a game of failure and being able to handle that is something that I’m able to deal with,” he said.
Smith did not fail much in college, and the Diamondbacks are expecting him to succeed as a professional. Of course, that’s not to say the 21-year-old is a finished product. Smith said he is far from one, because he can improve in all aspects of his game.
“Obviously I haven’t played professional baseball yet and I don’t really know what to expect, but I’ll get thrown out there and I’ll have to make adjustments.”
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