Blake Smith saved eight games for the WVU baseball team in a 36-win campaign in 2016.
He served as the team’s main closer and was a consistent force in the bullpen. His role likely won’t change this summer, but his responsibilities will.
Smith was selected as the 876th overall pick in Round 29 of the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
The Los Angeles Angels picked up the right-handed pitcher and he will be a nice addition to the bullpen within their minor league system.
A graduating senior, Smith limited opponents to a .214 batting average while strking out 42 batters over 32.2 innings pitched. He led the West Virginia pitching staff in appearances with 25.
He was reliable and sturdy for the Mountaineers as they were just one win away from becoming Big 12 Conference champions for the first time in program history.
Nonetheless, Smith was able to end his college career on a high note as a new journey begins for the Texas native.
"“I couldn’t be more excited to start my professional career,” said Smith. “It’s something that I’ve dreamed about for a while now and I’m just ready to get there and get started. Thanks to my Mountaineer family for everything during my two years at WVU. I couldn’t have made it to this point without them and I am very grateful for the opportunity that they gave me.”"
Smith came to Morgantown in 2015 after a two-year stint at Howard College. There, he also served his role in the bullpen and transitioned from a long relief guy to a go-to closer.
After his first year at West Virginia, Smith was an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention after recording five saves to go with a 4-1 record. He struck out 38 batters over 29.2 innings pitched as a junior.
He’s been building for a professional opportunity in these last two years and it’s good to see a guy like Smith get the chance to play baseball for a living.
If it wasn’t for his jump to the Mountaineers, he may not be getting this chance. Smith’s story and rise to success is a good marketing tool for the WVU baseball program.
What head coach Randy Mazey is building here is special and the program will continue to blossom in years to come.
It’s only a matter of time before the next Blake Smith comes and goes with a professional contract in tow.