Claflin University’s catcher/designated hitter Donald Smith had his childhood dream come true Wednesday in the Major League Baseball draft.
The Boston Red Sox picked the Panther senior with the 1,171st pick of the 38th round, making him the school’s first-ever draft selection.
The West Palm Beach, Fla. native, who is expected to complete his degree requirements in sports management in December, led Claflin with three home runs and 29 runs batted in during a year marred by injury. Smith played in just 23 games before being sidelined with a hamstring pulled before returning to action in April for the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament.
“Words cannot explain how I feel at this moment,” Smith said. “It really feels like when I was a kid catching my first big fish. This is a day which I dreamed of since the day I started playing baseball.”
It’s fitting as Smith spent many days fishing off the Atlantic coast to sell his catch for spending money during his summer vacation while growing up. Smith was a preseason all-conference selection this year and an all-conference performer his junior season.
Claflin head coach James Randall said he is extremely proud of Smith and what he has accomplished.
“I got a call from a Boston Red Sox scout after the season saying that he wanted to work Donald out,” Randall said. “The scout saw Donald at an MLB scout day held in the preseason at Claflin University. He was impressed with the way the ball came off of Donald’s bat. I really didn’t think that he would get drafted because our team was not scouted during a game. But the scout filmed the individual workout and took it back to the organization and they seemed to be equally impressed, and decided to give Donald a shot.
“I think that offensively Donald can hold his own. I know that he can play any position, whether it is outfield or catcher. Donald will go out every day and perfect his craft with the instructions from professional position coaches.”