California’s Blake Smith, one of the nation’s top two-way talents, will miss the rest of the season on the mound with a lat muscle strain. He also is going to be limited to the DH role.
Smith has hit fairly well this season, batting .318/.399/.544 with 10 home runs for the Bears, who have struggled to a 22-27 record, including just 8-16 in the Pacific-10 Conference. The Bears have struggled significantly on the mound, with a 5.86 team ERA, and Smith contributed to the problem while working both as a starter and as a closer. He was 0-1, 5.85 with two saves, having walked 20 and struck out 26 in 20 innings.
Smith should still be drafted in the first five rounds, despite an iffy season. He entered the season ranked 14th on BA’s College Top 100 Prospects list, after he didn’t give up an earned run last summer and hit three homers (while batting .327) for Team USA. He was the nation’s top two-way prospect entering this season.
It could depend on the team as to whether or not he goes out as a pitcher—he’s hit 96 off the mound at times, sitting 92-94 mph—or as a hitter. One evaluator who saw him repeatedly last summer thought Smith would fit better as an everyday right fielder.
"He’s got a chance to be a really good defender out there," he said. "I think he’s got good size, obviously he has the arm, and I like the power potential."