Hops' Smith collects first three hits as a pro

D-backs' first-rounder plates run, scores twice in second game

Pavin Smith batted .342 with 13 homers and 77 RBIs as a junior at the University of Virginia. (Hillsboro Hops)

By Andrew Battifarano / MiLB.com | June 25, 2017 2:26 AM

Pavin Smith walked back to the locker room after Class A Short Season Hillsboro's game on Saturday and saw his first hit of the night wrapped up in a case. He quickly decided what he'd do with the memento. 

"I'll probably give it to my mom," the D-backs prospect said. "She'll probably like it." 

In front of his parents, Smith collected his first three hits as a pro, drove in a run and scored twice as the Hops rallied for an 11-3 win over Boise at Ron Tonkin Field. He doubled between two singles during a 3-for-5 performance.

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The 21-year-old went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his Minor League debut Friday, but he was pleased to get back on track in his second game.

Video: Smith's first pro hit for Hops

"I hope [my parents] had fun," Smith said with a laugh. "I'm feeling really good. Yesterday, I didn't get my first hit, but today I got it out of the way, got the nerves out and it definitely feels good."

A week after completing his junior season at the University of Virginia, where he hit .342 with 13 homes and a team-leading 77 RBIs, he was drafted seventh overall by Arizona. He signed his contract on Wednesday and was assigned to the Northwest League a day later.

"It's been an exciting time," Smith said. "It's pretty surreal to hear your name on Draft day and everything. And just getting to come out to the West Coast, I haven't been out here too often, I was here probably once in my entire life. It's kind of cool being in a new place, different time zone. I'm excited to be able to do this." 

The Jupiter, Florida, native grounded out to shortstop in his first at-bat Saturday but singled to right field off reliever Kyle Cedotal in the third inning for a moment he'll never forget. 

"Even though it really wasn't that long, you get that monkey off your back," he said. "After you get that first hit, you feel like, 'OK, I can come up here and just be relaxed and let the game come to me.'" 

After popping out to Cedotal in the fifth, Smith came up in the sixth with a chance to do damage. With runners at first and second, he smoked Ethan Westphal's first pitch to left for a double that scored Bryan Araiza.

Smith capped his night with an opposite-field single to left in the eighth, scoring one batter later on Kyle Smith's three-run homer. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound first baseman said using the whole field is an important part of his approach. 

"I think it opens up your options. You can hit the outside pitch a little harder instead of rolling over," he said. "You get to extend the whole plate, you just don't hit from half the plate. You cover the whole thing when you use all fields." 

Smith had the chance to join the Rockies organization in 2014 when they drafted him in the 32nd round. Instead, he honored his commitment to Virginia, a choice he believes shaped him into the player he is today. 

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"It was definitely one of the best decisions of my life to go to college, to go to UVA," he said. "It not only developed me as a baseball player but also as a person and a man. It helped me deal with adversity that comes with baseball. It really taught me how to do that. I don't regret going to UVA and I'm very happy with my time there." 

Video: Hillsboro's Smith collects first-career RBI

Kyle Smith, Camden Duzenack and Connor Owings each picked up three hits for the Hops. Billy Endris tripled, doubled and drove in two runs out of the leadoff spot. Hillsboro starter Connor Grey (1-1) fanned a career-high nine over six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk.

For the Hawks, Will Haynie went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, his first as a pro.

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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