By Tyler Thornton
The 2013 MLB Draft saw three Furman players selected: outfielder Taylor Johnson and pitchers Nate Smith and Ben Carlson were chosen by the Los Angeles Angels in the 2013 MLB Entry Draft.
Taken in the eighth round with pick no. 247, the highest draft pick of the three was Nate Smith. Smith is a lefty, which should help his chances at cracking a major league roster in the future. He features a fastball, curveball, and a changeup. Smith was the opening day starter for the Inland Empire 66ers, an A-ball team based in California. On opening day, Smith pitched well, recording five innings while allowing no runs with one strikeout, one walk, and just three hits.
Unfortunately Smith was unable to maintain this success into his second start of the season. He struggled early and ultimately gave up five earned runs on three hits and two walks. Despite managing two strikeouts he only recorded a single out in the game thanks to a wild pitch being responsible for the first strikeout. Still, fans should not be discouraged by a single bad outing, especially from a pitcher who was able to pitch to a 3.86 ERA last year in his first taste of professional baseball.
The Paladins’ second player taken in the draft was Taylor Johnson, chosen in the 31st round, no. 937 overall. Johnson struggled in his first season to the tune of a .236/.307/.352 triple slash line. He has since been released by the Angels organization.
The final Paladin to be selected in the draft was right-handed pitcher Ben Carlson. Carlson was taken in the 40th round of the draft with pick no. 1207 overall. A reliever, Carlson has already played in three different leagues. At the time of this writing, he has made four appearances this season, pitching four innings with four strikeouts and two earned runs allowed through five hits and one walk.
While Johnson may be out of the game, Smith and Carlson remain on track to possibly follow in the footsteps of Tom Mastny, Furman’s only alumni to reach the major leagues.