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2024 MLB Draft Profile: Hagen Smith

With the MLB Draft just weeks away, I’m looking at one of the best college pitchers in this year's draft: LHP Hagen Smith.

Hagen Smith is a 6’3”, 225-pound junior southpaw from the University of Arkansas who, to put it nicely, set the world on fire with his performance this year, being the SEC Pitcher of the Year, a Perfect Game Pitcher of the Year, and countless of All American first teams. Along with this, Smith was also named a Golden Spikes Award finalist and Dick Howser Award finalist during his junior year at Arkansas. But what about his game makes him one of the best college baseball players and a future top 10 draft pick in this year's draft?

Smith has an outstanding three-pitch mix with a fastball that averages 93-95 and tops out at 98, a slider that moves exceptionally well and is devastating against left-handed hitters, and a splitter that bottoms out, causing no shortage of ugly swings.

Did I mention that in an offense-heavy league that college baseball became this year, he set the record for K/9 at 17.3, striking out 161 batters in 84 innings pitched, only walking 34 batters, and had an ERA of 2.04?

His velocity will play just fine in the MLB as he’s a strikeout-first pitcher (if the K/9 didn’t already tell you that). He can attack hitters with his fastball and slider, which have caused the most whiffs in the SEC this year because they miss the barrel well. The only real problem with him isn’t his velocity or delivery, which, for those who haven’t seen him throw, is similar to a Jesus Luzardo/ rookie Chris Sale-type delivery.

His control needs some work. As elite as his power fastball and wipeout slider are, with the ability to produce swing and miss the control on all three of his pitches, they aren’t as consistent as they can be. As shown in his last start against Kansas State, he got lit up for six runs as he wasn’t consistent with his locations due to the overall lack of control he could have. Along with that, his third pitch, the splitter, is a pitch he cannot locate, and his fastball and slider play into the overall control issues he’s run into.

This lack of control doesn’t mean he isn’t a good pitcher, as his numbers don’t lie. It’s just an issue MLB coaching will need to work on with him if he genuinely wants to be elite. When opponents only hit .144 against you in a loaded SEC conference, you are doing something right. As long as Hagen Smith can continue to attack hitters with his fastball and slider, work to control his splitter more, and eventually develop a fourth pitch like a curveball/sweeper, he has the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter for many years as he will be 21 in August.

As to my prediction of where I think he will get drafted, I expect him to go off the board at No. 7 to the St. Louis Cardinals. Chase Burns and Jac Caglianone will likely be the first pitchers off the board, so if he’s at seven, the Cardinals need another legit pitching prospect in the farm system, and Director of Scouting Robert Flores has shown he loves left-handed college pitchers as he took Cooper Hjerpe in 2022 and Quinn Matthews in 2023 to name a couple of guys.

Regardless, whoever lands Hagen Smith has a legit prospect who can propel a future rotation for years to come.

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