2015 Canadian draft list …. Canadians in College
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Letters of Intent
Leah Smith …. Nick Wells.
By Duane Turner
DUNEDIN, Fla. –Matt Smoral believed his career was over, but refused to let his dream of becoming a major-league pitcher end prematurely.
The 20-year-old left-handed pitcher was drafted 50th overall in the 2012 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. However, he did not make the professional impact he wanted.
During his senior year of high school in Ohio, Smoral suffered a foot injury that ended up sidelining him for the entire season. Knowing that it would be a year before he made his professional debut, the young southpaw refused to let this setback deter him from his ultimate goal.
“At first I was down about it, and I kind of just thought, well I’m going to go to college and just take that route,” Smoral said, sitting on a bench at the Bobby Mattick Training Complex.
“As it got close to the draft, I started to see that there would be a possibility to still get picked. The Blue Jays picked me, and I was just so grateful for the opportunity and I just wanted to do the best I could. “
Despite being cleared to play in 2013, Smoral was unable to regain his form in the Gulf Coast League, with a 7.01 ERA in 25 2/3 innings. But in preparation for the upcoming season, he came to a mature realization.
“I love the game of baseball, but you know it’s only going to be a short period of your life,” said Smoral, referring to his 2014 season. “(I had) to kind of take a step back and really put it in perspective and not make the game this massive giant that can consume you … It gave me a lot more peace on the field.”
Having attained peace of mind, Smoral was able to finally pay dividends on the investment the Blue Jays made on him during in 2014.
With Bluefield, Smoral pitched 53 innings, allowed 19 earned runs and 70 strikeouts. The young leftie was eventually promoted to Vancouver to take on the hitters in the Northwest League, a move he was very excited about.
“It was great, the day I got promoted to Vancouver, it was definitely another step towards moving up and I was just so grateful for the opportunity,” said the Ohio native. “To be able to play in Vancouver which is an awesome city, I just wanted to go and continue doing what I was doing in Bluefield.”