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LCHS grad Eric Smith realizes Major League dream with Dodgers

Baseball: La Cañada grad drafted in 18th round by Dodgers, St. Francis grad taken by A's.

June 06, 2012|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
(Courtesy of Casey…)

Eric Smith grew up a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers with his parents holding season tickets year after year.

Now, Smith has the opportunity of one day becoming a Dodger after he was drafted by his hometown squad in the 18th round at No. 566 overall Wednesday in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft.

"This day has been something I have looked forward to my entire life and I am so grateful to be selected by such a great franchise," Smith said. ""It's almost surreal that I am part of a franchise that I have grown up watching."

There's little time for Smith, who graduated from La Cañada High in 2009, to sit back and ponder his professional career, as he's too busy sporting Stanford University Cardinal red to switch to Dodger blue just yet.

That's because Stanford and its junior catcher are in the thick of a race to the NCAA National Championship.

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The 12th-ranked Cardinals were on a plane to Florida to take on No. 3 Florida State in NCAA Super Regional play, which begins Friday, when Smith heard he was drafted.

"He was just super excited," said Nancy Smith, Eric's mother.

St. Francis High's David Olmedo-Barrera was also drafted Wednesday in the 40th and final round at No. 1,219 by the Oakland Athletics.

"Honestly, I am really just so honored to be drafted," said Olmedo-Barrera, who just finished his senior year with the Golden Knights. "I guess it's kind of like my dream to always play professional baseball and to be drafted is a really huge honor. Being paid to play a game is very surreal. My family and I are really excited."

Stanford advanced to the Super Regionals with an 8-7 win over Pepperdine Sunday for the NCAA Stanford Regional tournament title.

Smith was an All-Pac 12 honorable mention and All-Stanford Regional Tournament player, as he went three for nine in three games with three runs scored and a run batted in through three tournament games. His best game of the tournament came Friday when he went two for four with two runs and a RBI in a win over Fresno State, 9-1.

It's another highlight in a breakout year for Smith, thanks to a position change he made from the middle infield to catcher during the offseason.

"Last year they were on a plane on their way back from the Super Regionals when [the Stanford coaches] told him they were going to make him a catcher," Nancy said. "He just started catching in the fall and won the starting position."

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