• Mt. Juliet pitcher awaits early call from MLB

    By Andy Reed -

    Monday could be a big night for recent Mt. Juliet High-graduate Ethan Smith.

    The hard-throwing right-handed pitcher could have a big decision to make if projections come true that the Vanderbilt-signee will be picked in the first two rounds of the Major League Baseball Draft.

    “We don’t know exactly where, (but) we heard he’s projected in the top two rounds,” Mt. Juliet coach Mark Purvis said of Smith, who topped out at 95 mph and was regularly at 90-93 this past season as he went 8-0 with an 0.90 earned-run average and 80 strikeouts in around 50 innings.

    Smith signed with the Commodores in November, but an early call from an MLB team, and a correspondingly high signing bonus, could sway him from West End. Smith was in Atlanta for a pre-draft workout involving multiple teams Thursday, Purvis said.

    The first two rounds of the draft are scheduled for Monday beginning at 6 p.m. CDT. Rounds 3-10 will be Tuesday starting at noon. Rounds 11-40 will be Wednesday beginning at 11 a.m.

    Purvis said Smith is healthy now after a late-season biceps strain sustained when he caught his spikes during a May 1 start at Lebanon’s Brent Foster Field. Purvis said Smith didn’t look right during a District 9-AAA tournament game against Station Camp and pulled him after around 60 pitches as the Golden Bears had a big lead.

    But after the Bears won the district championship, Smith couldn’t make an expected start in the May 14 Region 5-AAA opener against Rossview, which shut out top-ranked Mt. Juliet and eventually won the state championship.

    “He would have been okay if we had gotten to Friday (May 18 sectional),” Purvis said. “He just couldn’t go Monday.”

    If Smith is taken in the first two rounds, he would likely be the highest-drafted player out of a Wilson County high school. Wilson Central Hall of Famer James Adkins was taken in the 13th round out of high school by the Philadelphia Phillies but went to play for the University of Tennessee, from where he was take in the supplemental first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers following his junior season and signed.

    Cumberland pitcher Chris Smith, who was personally scouted by Dodger legend Tommy Lasorda at Woody Hunt Stadium, was taken seventh overall in 2001 by the Baltimore Orioles. But the left-hander’s career was immediately derailed by injuries and never really got started.

    CU coach Woody Hunt said it’s unlikely any current Phoenix player will be drafted next week. Outfielder Rayden Sierra is a long shot due to his advanced age of 22 or 23, he said.

    “He’s got pro ability, no question,” Hunt said of Sierra, who took the team triple crown in 2018 by batting .350 with 22 home runs and 54 batted in.

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