BATTLE GROUND — Isaiah Smith, who will be graduating from Battle Ground High School on Wednesday evening, has another reason to celebrate.
He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday morning.
Smith was selected in the 21st round of Major League Baseball’s 2017 draft.
“I’m ready to go play baseball,” Smith said moments after learning that he was picked. “I’m ready to start my dream.”
Smith had graduation rehearsal in the morning and was not looking at MLB.com’s draft tracker. Instead, he received a text from the scout from the Royals who had been keeping an eye on Smith.
“That was the way I found out. I didn’t even know,” Smith said. “I didn’t even get to see it.”
Smith had heard that he could have been drafted late on the second day or early on the third day of the draft. The first day of the draft, Monday, featured the first two rounds. Tuesday, the draft went through the 10th round. The final 30 rounds are Wednesday.
Smith ended up being the 630th overall pick.
“It’s exciting. Just exciting,” he said. “All the hard work finally paying off, seeing results.”
Smith performed pre-draft workouts for a few teams, including the Royals.
“I got to play on their field. I got to experience that whole thing. I loved it. It was fun,” he said. “Everything I could have imagined, really.”
Smith is the first player from Clark County to be selected in this year’s draft. Jake Dahlberg, who pitched this season for the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a Heritage graduate, was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals, four picks after Smith.
Later in the day, Seaver Whalen of Lewis-Clark State College was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays. A Union High School graduate, Whalen, a third baseman, was selected in the 32nd round.
The entire Battle Ground baseball community is excited for Smith. Not just because of his talent, either.
“He’s a really good baseball player with a lot of upside,” said Battle Ground baseball coach Billy Hayes, “but he’s a better person.”
“He does not waver on how he plays the game. He loves it,” Hayes said. “It’s a joy to see a guy work that hard, a guy who loves it that much. I’m very, very proud of him, and the school is as well. It’s a community thing. He’s got great support.”
At 6-2, 192 pounds, the center fielder has power and speed.
While he still has to negotiate a contract with the Royals — and he still could go to college; he has signed with Washington State University — his high school coach and teammates expect Smith to be playing professional baseball this summer.
Smith played with his summer club, Showtime Baseball, over the weekend. On Sunday, the team gave him a send-off and wished him the best. They took pictures with him, figuring this was the last they will see of him on a local field for a while.
“It’s been amazing,” Smith said of playing for the Tigers in the spring and Showtime in the summer. “They’ve supported me. Coaching-wise, I couldn’t ask for more. Couldn’t thank them enough.”
Prior to his final high school season, Baseball America listed Smith as the 75th best high school prospect in the country.
He has a long-term goal now:
“Be the best I possibly could be,” Smith said. “Be the best there is.”