Smiddy Latest Defiance Product In The Pros

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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Smiddy Latest Defiance Product In The Pros

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Shay Smiddy RHP / SS / Defiance, OH / 2016

WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. - The pipeline from Defiance High School to professional baseball continues. Shay Smiddy is the latest to sign a pro contract, electing to forego his senior season at Louisville to ink a pact with the Tampa Bay Rays.

“Ultimately it came down to the fact that I had two semesters left until graduation and they said they’d pay for it,” said the 2016 graduate of Defiance, who led the Bulldogs to a pair of state baseball championships and one state basketball title at the Division II school. “Knowing I could finish on their dime made it an easy choice.”

The 6-5 215-pound right-handed pitcher was drafted in the 36th round with the 1,088th selection in this year’s Major League Baseball Draft.

“You always have high expectations,” Smiddy explained about the draft. “The one thing I take away from it is you never know what to expect. Teams that were interested in me early on weren’t later. The Rays never talked with me much and then they reached out on draft day.”

Advice on what to do came from sources with experience.

“A couple Defiance guys reached out to me,” Smiddy said in reference to Anthony Kidston (who played at Louisville and in the minors), Jon Niese (Defiance grad who has played in 211 MLB games with a career record of 69-68) and Shea Murray (who played at Ohio State and is currently in the minor leagues). “They talked about the grind and that it would be a long road. Ups and downs will happen, you need to keep your head on your shoulders.”

Defiance head baseball coach Tom Held, assistant coach Rick Weaver, players at Louisville as well as hometown friends also made contact with Smiddy, as did advisor Josh Knipp, another Defiance High School graduate.

“Shay has all the intangibles to advance through the system,” Held said. “He has the IT factor.”

Smiddy is the 11th Defiance player to be drafted in this era and 12th to go pro (Kidston signed as a free agent), second only to Moeller out of high schools in Ohio.

“I always tell people I’m very fortunate to have played for and with the people at Defiance,” Smiddy noted. “I’m thankful for the basketball program and the competitive gene that coach (Kirk) Lehman puts in and the work ethic that coach Held puts in with baseball. I’ve been taught not to take anything for granted. It’s a new day and every day is gonna be the best day.”

Since signing a professional contract, Smiddy has pitched in four games with the Hudson Valley Renegades in the New York-Penn Class A Short-Season League, permitting four hits and two walks while fanning six in seven innings on the mound. The 21-year-old remembers the first outing well.

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