SPOKANE, Wash. – The Detroit Tigers selected Whitworth University pitcher Hugh Smith in the sixth round of the MLB draft today. He is the fifth Pirate player in school history to be selected in the draft.
Smith, a 6'-8" right-hander from Sammamish, Washington, is the first Whitworth player taken since the Philadelphia Phillies took Matt Squires in the 19th round of the 2001 draft. Smith is also the first NCAA Division III player chosen in the 2018 MLB draft. He was the first player off of the board in the sixth round.
"This is an unbelievable feeling and I am grateful to all of my family and friends for believing in me," Smith said. "I am especially grateful to C.J. (Perry) and Dan (Ramsay) for believing in me and giving me a chance, and for giving me the tools necessary to develop as a pitcher. I also want to thank all my Whitworth teammates and tell them how much I appreciate their friendship and support along the way."
Smith recently completed his junior season with a 6-1 record and a 1.58 ERA in 62.2 innings. The Northwest Conference selected Smith as the 2018 NWC Pitcher of the Year and he was named to a pair of All-West Region squads. He struck out 9.62 batters per nine innings.
Squires had been the highest-drafted Pirate baseball player. The first three Whitworth players ever drafted were all taken by the Chicago Cubs organization: Mark Linden was taken in the 31st round of the 1989 draft; Bob Mandeville was drafted in the 26th round of the 1984 draft; and James Travis was selected in the 28th round of the 1975 draft.
None of the previous four Pirates selected in the MLB draft ever made it to the major leagues. Only two former Whitworth players have played in the majors. Ray Washburn pitched 10 seasons (1961-70), nine with the St. Louis Cardinals and one with the Cincinnati Reds. He went 72-64 with a career ERA of 3.53. Washburn, who led the Pirates to the 1960 NAIA baseball championship, started two games in the 1968 World Series and went 1-1.
Bill Kelso, a former teammate of Washburn's for one year at Whitworth (1959), pitched three seasons for the California Angels from 1966-68. His career record was 12-5 with a 3.13 ERA. He also had 12 saves.
Smith expects to find out in the next couple of days where the Tigers plan to send him for his first minor league assignment.