D-backs land 1B Smith with No. 7 Draft pick

June 12th, 2017

PHOENIX -- The nerves finally hit Pavin Smith about an hour before the MLB Draft started Monday night.

"Everybody's latest mock drafts had me going different places," the University of Virginia first baseman said. "You try not to look into that, but it does get to you sometimes and I really didn't know the exact team that was going to pick me until about five minutes before, so I really had no clue."

The D-backs ended the suspense when they selected Smith with the No. 7 overall pick.

:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::

Smith, 21, has a polished approach at the plate and was one of the toughest college players to strike out this year. In his first 43 games, he had 10 homers and just six strikeouts.

As it turns out, the D-backs were nervous as well in the early part of the Draft: concerned that Smith might not get to them at No. 7.

"He was a guy that we had targeted coming into the year as someone we felt like we might have a chance to get," D-backs scouting director Deric Ladnier said. "We spent an exhaustive number of days and hours watching all of his games. The track record, the history, his ability to barrel the ball. You're just hoping that this type of offensive ability is available with the seventh pick and it was and we were ecstatic to get him there."

Smith's ability to control the strike zone was one of the reasons the D-backs coveted him. It's something that comes from the fact that Smith detests striking out.

"I think just maturing as a baseball player and maximizing my development, and realizing what the pitcher is trying to do with you with two strikes, or maybe get out of there early before you get to two strikes," Smith said. "I think hating striking out is one of the things that drives me to not strike out."

D-backs' 44th overall pick: Drew Ellis

D-backs' 68th overall: Daulton Varsho

Smith hit .342/.427/.570 with 13 homers in 228 at-bats this year for Virginia. His 77 RBIs were a single-season school record.

Ladnier and D-backs GM Mike Hazen had a conference call with Smith on Sunday night, but gave him no indication that they were going to select him.

Smith played some outfield for Virginia -- getting the nod in left field on Sundays when Adam Haseley pitched -- but scouts see him at first base. Smith, though, believes he can play both.

The D-backs, of course, are pretty set at first with , who is under contract through next year with a team option for 2019.

"I think Paul Goldschmidt is obviously one of the best hitters in the MLB," Smith said. "And I don't think he's moving any time soon."

The D-backs also had a second-round pick (44th overall) and Comp B pick (68th) Monday.

The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 9:30 a.m. MST, with exclusive coverage beginning at 10 a.m. MST.