Maryland shortstop Kevin Smith has been well-regarded as a pro prospect for some time, and those dreams were realized Tuesday afternoon. The Toronto Blue Jays selected Smith with the 129th overall pick of the 2017 MLB Draft.
Smith was a three-year starter at Maryland, and he led the Terps with 13 home runs, 48 runs batted in and a .552 slugging percentage in 2017. However, he’s even better known for his play at shortstop, and he’s projected to stay there as a professional.
Unlike several top college players, Smith wasn’t drafted out of high school, but he gained attention quickly with the Terps. He started at short from day one, and was an integral part of Maryland’s run to the Super Regionals in 2015.
His draft stock boomed last summer, when he was one of the breakout stars in the Cape Cod League. Smith was named an All-Star in the league and took home Best Defensive Infielder honors after the summer season. If anything, he actually hurt his stock as a junior—he struck out in over 25 percent of his at-bats—but there will always be a market for slick-fielding shortstops with powerful bats.
In all likelihood, Smith will sign with the Blue Jays and begin his professional journey. If that’s the case, he’ll finish his Maryland career with a .267 average, 28 homers and 117 RBIs in 177 games. One more year would push him further up the school record books, but he doesn’t have much else to prove at this level.
Maryland has now had at least one player drafted every year since 2002, and Smith was the highest-drafted player in the Big Ten this year. It’s never easy to move up the minor league ladder, but Toronto seems to be confident Smith can do just that.