LOS ANGELES, May 21, 2013 — Dominic Smith, from Serra High School, is projected by various mock drafts to go anywhere from #9 in the 2013 Major League Baseball draft to #16 depending on where you look. He is a product of a great emerging baseball program at Serra High School that is run by Wil Aaron and his staff. Dominic Smith took some time before practice to speak about growing up with baseball, the 2013 MLB draft and his school, Serra High School in Gardena.
Kevin Wells: What made you want to start playing baseball?
Dominic Smith: Ever since I was a little kid, I loved playing sports. I’m a very active kid and played basketball, football and baseball. At the age of seven, I tried baseball and from there on I just stuck with that. I dropped football. I dropped basketball and never played it again. I just stuck with baseball ever since then.
KW: Who is your favorite team?
DS: My favorite team is the Angels. Watching them since I was a little kid growing up, watching them win the 2002 World Series when they had Darren Erstad and Tim Salmon and Jim Edmonds, just a great team. I did watch Dodger games, but Vin Scully was just too old for me. He’s a legend, nothing against Vin Scully, he’s in the Hall of Fame and everything, but he’s just a little too old for me. I was born in a new generation and I just fell in love with the Angels at a young age.
KW: Did you have a favorite player that you looked up to?
DS: With the Angels it was Chone Figgens. At the time, he was a great player. He could do it all, utility guy. As I got older, I started to fall out of love with him because I couldn’t mimic his game as much because we are too different types of players. He’s more of a fast guy and slap hitter lead off guy and he plays everywhere. I can’t play everywhere. I really fell in love with Carlos Gonzalez. We have the same style game. We both hit for power, both can play the outfield and we’re both left handed. I really love him and Robinson Cano. His left handed swing is beautiful. I love watching him play. He makes the game look effortless.
KW: Is there a certain player you try to pattern your game after?
DS: I try to model my game a little bit after three players. I don’t want to mimic or model my game after just one player. I try to model my fielding after Mark Teixeira. He’s a great fielder and he can hit as well. I like watching Cano swing from the left side of the plate. He makes the game look easy. And Carlos Gonzalez, he’s a gold glove outfielder. He makes a ton of plays and has a really good arm and he can hit as well. I just try to model my overall game after those three players.
KW: When did you know that you wanted to be a professional baseball player and that a career in baseball was even a possibility?
DS: Growing up, you always say, “That’s what I want to be when I grow up,” but you never really know. Especially at a young age, it seemed so far away. I started to realize it probably during my sophomore or junior year. I started getting letters from college coaches and scouts and stuff like that. I started to really know and recognize I can take this game to the next level and play professionally. My coach [Wil Aaron] always told me since I was a freshman that I could do it. I just thought he was talking because I was the best player on the team. Now, seeing it this year with all the scouts coming out, with all the mock drafts out and I was invited to New York for the draft, it’s surreal, surreal to me. I’m just trying to take it all in and enjoy myself and have fun.
KW: What made you want to commit to USC?
DS: My top three schools were USC, North Carolina and LSU. It came down to USC because it’s close to home and if I need anything, I can always come back home. My dad lives three blocks away from USC and my mom lives here in Gardena. Our family is situated right here in Los Angeles. They can come to all my home games. They can bring me food. They can bring me money. They could come see me. It’s easier for me to drive a couple miles to go see my family than to fly from North Carolina every couple months. It was just better for me. USC is a great school, a great tradition and a superb university. Who wouldn’t love that?
KW: Is there anything that would make you choose college instead of signing with a major league team?
DS: The only thing that would make me opt for college more than a pro contract is if the money they offer me doesn’t make me and my family comfortable. Of course, when I go sign professionally, they have to offer me a college scholarship plan as well. If they don’t do that and they don’t offer me anything that makes me and my family comfortable, then I will take my talents over to USC.
KW: Do you think Serra’s success this year will help make baseball at Serra as attractive as football?
DS: Yeah, I do. When you think of baseball schools, you think of the Mater Dei’s, the Valencia’s, the Servite’s, the El Toro’s, all the schools that aren’t in the inner cities. When you hear Serra, you really get knocked for playing baseball. We don’t get as much respect and credit as we deserve. I think when people come see us, we really open their eyes. They say, “Oh, this team is really good.” If we keep winning and keep having the success, I think people will start to respect us. People will start to recognize and watch it more and really want to come out and watch us play.
As for now, we get some respect, but not fully the respect we deserve, especially with the talent on our team. I mean, we got kids in the draft, we got kids going to D1, we got a kid that played on the USA team, a ton of accomplishments. With that, it’s crazy how they still don’t respect us. If we keep winning and keep proving ourselves, I think we will eventually get the respect we deserve.
KW: Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?
DS: Nothing really, I just love the game. I love having fun. I love playing this sport. I mean, it’s the only thing I see myself doing for my career, God willingly. I love everybody. I love my teammates. I love the game. I love having fun.
Dr. Steven L. Adler from the Wells On Baseball think tank contributed to this article.
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