Pavin Smith was joined by friends, family members and former coaches at his home in Jupiter, Florida, on Monday night. The place erupted when the Virginia first baseman was selected seventh overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But then a hush fell over the room. Smith’s orders.
“I know a lot of mock drafts had Adam going to the Phillies,” Smith said, “so, right after, I told everybody at my house to quiet down so I could see if Adam got picked there.
“It was an amazing feeling. We hit back to back in the order and we go back to back in the draft, it’s just an awesome feeling.”
For the first time since 1988, position players from the same college team were chosen among the top 10 picks of the Major League Baseball Draft. UVa center fielder Adam Haseley, mere moments after Smith’s name was called, went No. 8 to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The duo is the first to go this high since Oklahoma State shortstop Monty Fariss (No. 6 to the Texas Rangers) and third baseman Robin Ventura (No. 10 to the Chicago White Sox) 29 years ago.
The Cavaliers have now had eight true first round picks in their history, including six in the Brian O’Connor era. (Note: Sean Doolittle, Derek Fisher, Mike Papi and Nathan Kirby were all taken in the “supplemental” or “competitive balance” sections of the draft, between the first and second rounds.) Catcher Matt Thaiss went 16th overall to the Los Angeles Angels last year.
“I think it’s very rare and special to have two guys go that high,” O’Connor said. “That speaks to the level of offensive team we had this year, but also — and most importantly — that speaks to the level of development that these players are going to be able to get at the University of Virginia.
“I feel good about the environment and the culture that they’re in here to take an 18-year-old and put him in this environment you can learn and grow in three years to ultimately become some of the best prospects in the draft.”
Both Smith and Haseley were first-team All-ACC selections in 2017, a season that saw their rise up the boards.
Smith batted .342 with 13 homers and a school-record 77 RBI. The lefty drew 38 walks to 12 strikeouts. He struck out once every 19 at-bats, a rate that was fourth-best nationally.
During MLB Network’s coverage of the draft, analyst Peter Gammons compared Smith to Brandon Belt of the San Francisco Giants.
“He has great confidence in his ability to wait on pitches,” Gammons said. “The breakdown of seeing the takes he has as a hitter … he’s played very well at every level that he’s played on, both in the ACC and the Cape [Cod League].
“He’s a good first baseman. The projection is teams really feel this guy can easily be a 20-25 home run hitter.”
Smith said he had a conference call with Arizona management on Sunday evening, but had “no clue” which organization would take him until five minutes before the selection.
“I couldn’t ask for a better situation,” Smith said. “It’s such a surreal feeling. I really can’t wait to get started and play some baseball.”
Haseley batted .390 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI. The lefty drew 44 walks to striking out 21 times. Louisville’s Brendan McKay, who beat out Haseley for ACC Player of the Year, went fourth overall Monday to the Tampa Bay Rays.
MLB Network’s Eric Byrnes said Haseley has the potential of an Andrew Benintendi (Boston Red Sox) or Tyler Naquin (Cleveland Indians).
“He only just hit his way into the first round recently, during his junior season,” Byrnes said. “He’s got everything. He’s got pop to all fields, plays a smooth center field. He can play anywhere in the outfield. He’s an above-average runner, looks to be very smooth in the outfield.”
Vanderbilt in 2015 was the last college program to produce two top 10 picks in the same draft — shortstop Dansby Swanson (No. 1 to the Diamondbacks) and pitcher Carson Fulmer (No. 8 to the White Sox).
Of course, Smith and Haseley played major roles in beating those Commodores in the ’15 College World Series finals.
“Congrats to the boys!,” Thaiss tweeted of Smith and Haseley. “Two of the best to ever come out of [UVa].”
Virginia closer Tommy Doyle was selected 70th overall (second round) by the Colorado Rockies.
Draft rounds 3-10 will take place Tuesday. Virginia closer Tommy Doyle