Every baseball player dreams of sitting in a room with their family and getting a call bringing them one step closer to the Big Show.
For Copperas Cove graduate Jaylen Smith, that call came June 6, when he was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 29th round of the 2018 MLB Draft.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “I can’t explain it — hearing you’re going to be playing the sport you love and trying to play for the rest of your life.”
Although Smith verbally committed to play for San Jacinto Community College in July, at the start of the season, he sat down and talked out his options and potential to be drafted with Bulldawgs head coach Dusty Brittain.
“I actually heard it from Jaylen himself,” Brittain said.
When he answered the phone, Smith told him, “Coach, it just happened.”
After years playing under Brittain, Smith said he was comfortable going to his coach for guidance about deciding whether to continue on the college route or try to make it to the MLB.
As a coach, Brittain hears many of his players talk of playing in the big leagues one day, but this is the first athlete he coached to be drafted.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s a testament to the kid and the hard work and talent.”
For Smith, it’s a dream come true. “I’ve always dreamed of being drafted, but to come out of Cove, and to be Coach Brittain’s first, that’s something I’ll never forget.”
Smith was a multisport athlete, who also played quarterback for the Bulldawgs, and waited out his senior season to see if any football offers would come his way.
At the beginning of the season, long before Copperas Cove’s playoff appearance, Smith started getting calls that he was being looked at for the draft, and he knew his path.
“Most my family has been around football, but they know me growing up being in both,” he said, “but my calling is baseball.”
Since the news broke, Smith’s Twitter account has blown up.
“I’m a life-long Jaylen Smith fan,” Brittain said. “Wherever he goes, I’ll be a fan.”
As this new chapter in his career begins, Smith is ready for everything that comes with this opportunity. “A lot of fun, a lot of competition,” Smith said. “Hopefully, I can get better and move up as fast as I can to get to the big leagues.”
“Stay hungry,” Brittain advised. “It’s not going to be easy. He’s going from being a high school stud to now being at the bottom of the pecking order.
“Work hard, and good things are going to happen.”
At Bulldawgs’ games, Smith’s mother posts “K” signs against the pressbox.
It’s a tradition she started before the season as she enjoys keeping track of all his stats.
Smith knows his mom will continue to keep track of his stats at every game she can catch.
“She’s not ready to give it up,” Smith said of the tradition.
As for those local players who dream of playing in the big leagues, Smith advises them it is possible.
“I tell kids all the time to work hard” he said. “If you every dream something big, go after it.
“Don’t ever think you can’t reach it. If you can put your mind to it, you can do it.”