With the 32nd overall pick in the 2016 draft, the Dodgers have selected Will Smith from the University of Louisville in Louisville, KY. He was projected by Baseball America to be the 34th overall pick by the St. Louis Cardinals.
While the Dodgers don't have a particularly strong prospect at catcher, Yasmani Grandal and A.J. Ellis currently monopolize the role at the major league level. Ellis is eligible for free agency following this season, while Grandal is arbitration-eligible until 2019.
Kentucky County Day High School has discovered how to keep a young catcher from the bodily harm his position typically dictates - train him to be something else. Then, later, just subtlety move him from shortstop or pitcher to behind the plate, and that's just where he plays now. That's almost what happened with 21-year-old catcher and KCD alumnus Will Smith. Some have credited his quick hands, cannon arm, and better than "stegosaurus-esque" speed to his past as a middle infielder and starting pitcher. As a high school senior, he had an 0.87 ERA - but also hit .528. The man used to throw 90+ m.p.h. fastballs; he doesn't even catch guys stealing anymore, they just don't bother to try (but he threw out 12 of the 26 who did). Smith almost steals more bases than he allows. It's a versatile skill set for a guy whose favorite ballplayer is David Ortiz.
And while Baseball America felt he was good enough to be drafted by the Cardinals, their editor John Manuel wasn't afraid to say,
"He’s the flavor of the month. He has legitimate draft helium in that he’s rising up the draft board because he keeps playing well."
Scouts would show up at Louisville's games for a guy like closer and triple digit-kisser Zack Burdi and wind up taking a peak at Smith while they were there. He may have gotten a boost from being a stop on the Cardinals' sightseeing tour.
It's true that Smith seemed to claw his way higher and higher on draft boards after not blossoming but blasting out of the .235-hitting doldrums of his first two years at Louisville. He's now 6th in his conference with a .370 batting average and has knocked seven home runs and stolen nine bases. Smith doesn't project to mash for much power, but gets people excited at the thought of a catcher who is an effective enough hitter to contribute on both sides of the ball.