HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State sophomore pitcher Chad Smith was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 23rd round of the 2015 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft on Wednesday, marking the third player to be selected from the program in four years.
Smith battled a strained oblique in his final season at Wallace State, limiting him to only 10 appearances. He went 3-2 with one save and a 3.60 ERA as Wallace State finished with a 29-24 record and as the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) runner-up.
Smith, a McAdory High grad, had his most dominant effort of the season vs. Calhoun on March 20, recording eight strikeouts as he twirled a seven-inning complete game in front of multiple major league scouts. Smith made two more starts before making an early exit on April 11 with an oblique injury. He didn't return to the mound until the conference tournament in early May.
Before his sophomore campaign with the Lions, Smith had a dominant fall season, which caught the eyes of many professional teams.
"I'm proud of Chad Smith for being drafted. He'll now have a decision to go to Ole Miss or to turn professional," said Wallace State baseball coach Randy Putman, who was drafted by the Kansas City Royals during his playing career. "Chad made a lot of progress for us last fall. That's when he figured it out and actually became a prospect. He was injured so much for us during the regular season that he never could get in a groove."
Smith was 2-4 with a 4.05 ERA in 17 appearances, including six starts, as a freshman for Wallace State.
Smith, selected 694th overall, has signed to play at Ole Miss next season if he forgoes the opportunity to play for the Indians organization.
Smith joins catcher Andrew Dennis (37th round in 2013) and right-hander Bret Marks (22nd round in 2012) as the Wallace State players to be drafted since Craig Kimbrel was a third round selection of the Atlanta Braves in 2008.
Marks, who transferred to Tennessee and played two seasons for the Volunteers after leaving Wallace State, was drafted again by the Yankees on Wednesday, this time in the 15th round (453rd overall pick).
Wallace State baseball currently has three former players on major league rosters. Kimbrel is the closer for the San Diego Padres, lefty Derek Holland is in his seventh season with the Texas Rangers and Jake Elmore is a utility man for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Zelous Wheeler, who last July became the fifth former Wallace State player in six seasons to make his major league debut, is playing professionally in Japan for the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Smith joins fellow ACCC draftees Grayson Jones and Chase Johnson-Mullins of Shelton State. Both pitchers were selected by the Atlanta Braves with Jones in the 11th round and Johnson-Mullins in the 13th.