Two of Virginia’s top junior players of the past few seasons were selected within the top 10 picks of the MLB Draft Monday. First basemen and outfielder Pavin Smith was selected No. 7 overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks, with first baseman and pitcher Adam Haseley the very next pick by the Philadelphia Phillies at No. 8.
Smith had an illustrious career at Virginia that saw his numbers climb with each season as the Cavaliers’ starting first baseman. The native of Jupiter, Fla. burst onto the scene as a true freshman, starting 68 games for Virginia while putting up a solid .307 average with seven home runs and 44 RBIs. After improving in all of those categories as a sophomore, Smith had a historic season as a junior, setting a Virginia single-season record with 77 RBIs. Additionally, he owned the mind-boggling stat of homering more than he struck out, going yard 13 times while punching out only 12 times. The Diamondbacks currently have one of the best first baseman in Major League Baseball in Paul Goldschmidt, so Smith could see increased development as an outfielder in one of the most rapidly improving franchises in the league.
Haseley, meanwhile, had a stellar career at Virginia as a two-way player. A highly touted prospect out of Florida, Haseley impressed on the mound as a freshman in limited action—posting a 2.20 ERA in 11 appearances—as his presence as a hitter continually improved. He enjoyed his best season on the mound as a sophomore when he went 9-3 with a 1.73 ERA. Though Haseley’s ERA dipped as a junior, he remained a solid starter in the weekend rotation while he became a force in Virginia’s lineup. The junior earned first-team All-American honors after hitting .390 with 14 homers and 56 RBIs. The Phillies are in the midst of a massive rebuild and have lacked top-notch talent the past few years, so Haseley may have the ability to rise quickly through the minor leagues if he keeps delivering from the plate.
Virginia coach Brian O’Connor will lose the two main cogs of his prolific offense and a very reliable pitcher in Haseley. O’Connor has proven to be adept at developing MLB-level talent, however, as the 2017 draft marks the fourth year in a row that at least one of his players was drafted in the first round.