With the 51st pick of the 2015 MLB Draft A.J. Preller made his first selection as a general manager selecting RHP Austin Smith from Park Vista Community High School. Ironically, last years top pick, Trea Turner, also went to the same high school.
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Smith’s best pitch, like many young pitchers, is his fastball. At the moment it sits around 92 MPH, but he has been able to throw it up to 97 MPH. The fact that he’s been clocked at that high of velocity with his big frame, there’s reason to believe once he fully develops he’ll sit around 95+ MPH. He also features a curveball which is regarded as an above average pitch. He also has a changeup, but it still needs a lot of work. If he wants to stick as a starter he’ll have to develop his secondary pitches, but at 18 years old he has a lot of time to develop his offerings. Part of the reason it’s believed he’ll stick as a starter is because of his delivery. It’s an easy and repeatable one, so he won’t have to workshop it much, if at all.
While a lot of high school players have signability concerns, according to Anthony Chiang of the Palm Beach Post, Smith should sign with the Padres.
While any one drafted this high looks good on draft night, Smith seems to be a very projectable pitcher. His fastball has a lot of room to grow, and he has plenty of time to develop his secondary pitches. Fangraphs has his ETA as 2020, so to put that in perspective James Shields contract will have already come and gone before Smith will be ready to sniff the big leagues. It’ll be some time before we’ll see any significant progress from him, but he looks like a guy with a bright future.
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