Smith -a former 2016 38th-round pick by the Detroit Tigers- lost most of his 2018 campaign due to a stress fracture. He came back in 2019 to lead LSU in stolen bases (20) and on-base percentage (.436%). Along the way, the Yankees 2019 second-round pick posted a .952 fielding percentage and .346 batting average (through 63 games). The team’s starting shortstop was a significant contributor at third base for the Tigers’ 2017 College World series squad.
The Miami Marlins selected the 2019 SEC Player of the Year JJ Bleday with the fourth overall pick of the 2019 MLB Draft. Bleday currently leads the nation with 26 home runs in 2019 and sports a .327 career batting average through three seasons. The former San Diego Padres 39th round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft was a three-sport athlete at the prep level in golf, swimming and baseball. He projects as a corner outfielder in the Marlins organization.
Texas A&M’s Braden Shewmake has been a model of consistency during his three-year run in the SEC. The conference and National Freshman of the Year in 2017 batted .335 with 11 home runs and 68 RBI during that season alone. The former all-district quarterback at Wylie East High School (Tex.) was a three-sport standout (baseball, basketball, football) at the prep level. The 6’4, 190-pounder was selected 21st overall by the Atlanta Braves in the 2019 MLB Draft and will be expected to develop into the same steady player he proved to be at the SEC level.
Ole Miss’ Grae Kessinger’s grandfather, Don, was a two-time Gold Glove winner for the Chicago Cubs and once served as the Rebels head coach (1991-96). His father, Kevin, also played baseball at Ole Miss. The Astros second-round draft pick and Rebels team MVP was named a finalist for the 2019 Brooks Wallace Award, given annually to the top shortstop in college baseball. Through early June, Kessinger had committed just eight errors.