Friday, April 12, 2024

Arkansas’ Hagen Smith, potential first-round pick in ’24 MLB Draft, strikes out 17 over six vs. Oregon State

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Arkansas Razorbacks left-hander Hagen Smith, who CBS Sports recently ranked as one of the 30 best prospects eligible for the upcoming Major League Baseball amateur draft, pulled off a nifty trick on Friday night against the Oregon State Beavers and second baseman Travis Bazzana, the early favorite to be selected No. 1. in the MLB Draft. Smith recorded each of his first 15 outs — as in, his first five innings’ worth of work — via strike out.

Smith, then, took the mound in the sixth inning having surrendered three hits and a walk, but no runs, over five shutout frames. He had struck out 15 of the 19 batters he had faced, including Bazzana in all three of their head-to-head matchups. Oregon State center fielder Micah McDowell grounded out to begin the sixth, ending Smith’s out-via-K streak. Overall, Smith hurled six innings of no-run baseball, allowing just three hits and one walk against 17 strikeouts. His 17 punchouts tied the Arkansas single-game strikeout record. 

CBS Sports ranked Smith as the 22nd best prospect earlier this month. Here’s what we wrote at the time:

Every starting pitcher in this class has some kind of concern — be it health, ceiling, or command. The last one is Smith’s poison. He’s a well-built lefty with a good repertoire, led by a fastball that can touch into the upper 90s. His abrupt arm action and low three-quarters release point can be described fairly as disruptive, both to batters and himself, with the effect on the latter manifesting in a career walk rate over 13.4%. If Smith shows any growth in that area this spring, he may wind up being the first arm taken in July.

Arkansas entered Friday night ranked as the No. 2 program in the country. Oregon State, meanwhile, was ranked No. 7.

The Beavers’ lineup included the aforementioned Bazzana, who several other front offices have speculated could be the No. 1 pick in July’s draft. The Cleveland Guardians, making the top pick for the first time in franchise history, are believed to be enamored with the line-drive-hitting Bazzana. On Friday night, at least, Smith was superior.

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