Currently in first place in the AL Central, the Cleveland Indians are starting to emerge from rebuilding mode and they have many reasons for optimism. The influx of young talent the team has brought up in recent seasons has helped return the Indians to winning ways. However, outfield continues to be an area needing more depth, as evidenced by the recent signing of 38 year old Johnny Damon.
One young player the Indians are counting on to remedy this by moving quickly through their system is Jordan Smith.
A big left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing corner outfielder, Smith was drafted in the 9th round of the 2011 MLB draft out of St. Cloud State College in Minnesota, where he played third base. Because of his athleticism and big arm, the Indians decided to move him to the outfield to give the organization the potential for more impact options. Smith rewarded the Indians faith by having an excellent first professional season last year, collecting a .300 batting average and 47 RBI in 65 short-season games. He is already off to a quick start at A-ball in 2012 and if he keeps producing like this, he should place himself in an excellent position to join the Indians outfield before long.
Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up?
My favorite team growing up was the Minnesota Twins, but my favorite player was Cal Ripken, Jr. I just looked up to him. He was a good shortstop and hitter; just somebody you could really look up to, especially since he played every day.
Prior to being drafted, what was your favorite baseball moment or memory?
I would say when we competed in Nationals, 12 and under, AAU. We finished third in Nationals and that was just a fun time. My dad was my coach.
How did you first find out that the Indians were interested in you?
You get letters and whatnot, but if I made a list of the top ten that were interested, I wouldn’t put the Indians on that list. They were kind of just the sleeper team. On draft day they called and said I had been selected by them.
What was draft day like for you?
I was in the Cape. We were at a practice and I had my phone on me, and then it kind of got a little more intense. I set my phone in the grass and when I went back to my phone I had like 200 missed calls and texts. I saw one from the Indians that said they had drafted me in the ninth. It was a pretty exciting moment.
After you signed with Cleveland, did you do anything fun or exciting for yourself or your family?
I went back to Minnesota. I was in Massachusetts during the draft and then I flew back to Minnesota. We signed at my house in Minnesota and then had a little draft party with family and friends. No new vehicles or anything.
What has been the hardest part about adapting to life as a professional baseball player off the field?
I would say the being away from home. Just missing your family and missing your friends. But it’s definitely a good time. Good guys and good coaches.