Why didn’t the Phillies Draft this Impressive Prospect?

Alabama pitcher Dylan Smith (25) checks the Florida base runner taking a lead from first during the SEC Tournament Thursday, May 27, 2021, in the Hoover Met in Hoover, Alabama. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Sec Tournament Alabama Vs Florida
Alabama pitcher Dylan Smith (25) checks the Florida base runner taking a lead from first during the SEC Tournament Thursday, May 27, 2021, in the Hoover Met in Hoover, Alabama. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Sec Tournament Alabama Vs Florida /
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Did the Phillies miss out by not drafting Dylan Smith?

Alabama record holder. NCAA All-Tournament selection. Top-tier MLB Draft prospect. Dylan Smith fits all three of these descriptions.

In 2021, the Alabama right-handed pitcher burst onto the scene. His third collegiate season was his best yet, and he finished third in Alabama history in strikeouts in a single season with 113. As mentioned, he was also selected to the NCAA All-Tournament team for the Ruston Regional, where he pitched a complete game with seven hits, no walks, one run, and seven strikeouts on 116 pitches.

So why didn’t the Philadelphia Phillies draft him?

Smith was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the third round, the 74th overall pick in the draft. The Phillies had the 13th, 49th, and 84th picks in the first three rounds, and chose pitcher Andrew Painter and outfielders Ethan Wilson and Jordan Viars, in that order.

Coming out of high school, he was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 18th round of the 2018 MLB draft. Heading into the 2021 MLB draft, Smith was ranked as MLB.com’s 74th overall prospect. His jump to the top-100 this year showed just how far he came in his time at Alabama; few places are better to get experience in your college baseball career than in the SEC.

We recently had the opportunity to interview Dylan here at TBOH, and we found out that his commitment to baseball is nothing new for him; baseball is in his DNA:

"“I’ve played since I was three-years-old. From there, I never looked back. I’ve always played baseball, never stopped. It was just my passion. I always had fun when I played the game.”"

Smith was an outfielder for a while but ended up focusing more on pitching in his junior and senior years of high school. He felt he could’ve been a minor-league centerfielder, but that his best shot at the big leagues was as a pitcher. Now, he is about to be one step closer to that reality. Smith talked about how far he has come since the 2018 MLB Draft and how the SEC prepared him for this moment:

"“It’s a blessing to see the growth that I’ve had since my freshman year and since high school. Going to college was the best move for me to get the right exposure in the SEC. Playing against the talent on the other teams and working with the Alabama coaches helped make me a better pitcher and player."

"Going to the SEC was very tough. A lot of the guys in the SEC are going to be future big-leaguers. I feel like their talent level makes you work a little more because you can’t miss a spot. If you miss a spot, they’re going to damage the ball.”"

To keep hitters off-balance, Smith had to work on mixing his pitches in addition to honing his command. He has four pitches that he uses right now: fastball, curveball, slider, splitter.

Smith’s arsenal isn’t as simple as it sounds, though. He can manipulate all four pitches especially his fastball to look different than they looked one pitch earlier:

"“My fastball is pretty much undefined. I grip it like a four-seam but it dances a lot. When I throw it away to righties, it cuts and when I throw it inside to righties it has some type of sinking action. Same thing for lefties. My curveball, I’d say, is my best pitch. I just know how to manipulate it really well. I can spin it up to 85-86 mph but I can also bring it down to 78 mph. Being able to manipulate that pitch kind of adds a third breaking ball in a sense.For my slider, you may see my slider and curveball blend sometimes. It creates some slurve action. It just depends because when my hand gets on top it’s like a 12-6 [curveball] and sometimes if my hand gets a little on the side it creates that slurve action. Occasionally, I’ll mix in the slider at 87-88 mph. For my splitter, I use it often but not too much. I can throw it for strikes, but I feel like I need to work with it from both sides a little bit more.”"

There isn’t much that hitters can do against that. Smith’s arsenal can’t be defined by just four pitches on paper. As he continues to develop his command and grow as a pitcher overall, he’ll have the potential to be a successful big-league pitcher. If that splitter comes along, he’ll be unstoppable. With the right sequencing to each hitter, those pitches will play beautifully. From his time at Alabama, he has a strong understanding of how to attack different types of hitters based off film.

Before we wrapped up our time with Dylan, we asked him what his message would be to all 30 teams about who they’d get if they drafted him:

"“You’re getting a guy who is going to work hard for your team and move up the ladder pretty quick. A guy who is going to dominate. A guy who wants to learn. A guy who wants to soak in all of the information like a sponge and a guy who wants to have fun on the baseball field.”"

In his own words, Dylan Smith sounded like he would have been the perfect fit in a city like Philadelphia. He has exactly the mindset Philly fans want their athletes to have and that every fan should want their team’s athletes to have, but instead, the rebuilding Tigers will benefit from his motivation.

Related Story. Five Facts about Phillies’ First-Round Pick, Andrew Painter. light

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