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Major success for former Spartan Eric Smith in minor leagues

Baseball: La Cañada High grad uses bat to make an impression in first month with Ogden Raptors.

August 08, 2012|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
(Courtesy of Noall…)

Everything Eric Smith heard about life in minor league baseball couldn't have been truer.

It really is a grind.

That's the first thing the 2009 La Cañada High graduate learned about his new job as a member of the Ogden Raptors, a rookie affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Smith forwent his senior season with the Stanford University baseball team to sign a contract with the Dodgers organization after he was drafted by his hometown team in the 18th round at No. 566 overall June 6 in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft.

"It is definitely different from college; it's definitely a huge adjustment," said Smith, a catcher who's also logged time at designated hitter with the Raptors. "Everything I have heard about it, how it's a grind, is 100% true. …We started mid-June and we went 22 games without an off-day. We are driving to hotels in the middle of the night and getting there at 5 in the morning."

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The key to surviving the grind has been establishing a routine "to stay fresh," Smith said.

"Most of our games are at 7 [p.m.] and you're going to bed at 1 in the morning, but you're sleeping all day just trying to get as much rest as you can between games," Smith said. "You just try to get a routine, eat at the same time and go to the stadium at the same time. Every day is pretty much the same. You just have to do what your body tells you. You have to figure [the routine] out on your own."

Smith's routine has kept him in tip-top shape on the field about a month and a half into the season, as he leads Ogden in batting average with a .349 mark (58 for 166) which is also good for seventh best in the Pioneer League 48 games into a season he's made 42 appearances in so far.

"I don't think you can ask for a better start than what I have had here in Ogden," said Smith, who also leads the Raptors in doubles (12), triples (six) and is tied for the team lead in total bases (85).

Smith credits his three years at Stanford for preparing him for the experience as best as possible.

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