LCHS grad Eric Smith realizes Major League dream with Dodgers

Eric Smith grew up a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers with his parents holding season tickets year after year.

Now, Smith has the opportunity of one day becoming a Dodger after he was drafted by his hometown squad in the 18th round at No. 566 overall Wednesday in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft.

"This day has been something I have looked forward to my entire life and I am so grateful to be selected by such a great franchise," Smith said. ""It's almost surreal that I am part of a franchise that I have grown up watching."

There's little time for Smith, who graduated from La Cañada High in 2009, to sit back and ponder his professional career, as he's too busy sporting Stanford University Cardinal red to switch to Dodger blue just yet.

That's because Stanford and its junior catcher are in the thick of a race to the NCAA National Championship.

The 12th-ranked Cardinals were on a plane to Florida to take on No. 3 Florida State in NCAA Super Regional play, which begins Friday, when Smith heard he was drafted.

"He was just super excited," said Nancy Smith, Eric's mother.

St. Francis High's David Olmedo-Barrera was also drafted Wednesday in the 40th and final round at No. 1,219 by the Oakland Athletics.

"Honestly, I am really just so honored to be drafted," said Olmedo-Barrera, who just finished his senior year with the Golden Knights. "I guess it's kind of like my dream to always play professional baseball and to be drafted is a really huge honor. Being paid to play a game is very surreal. My family and I are really excited."

Stanford advanced to the Super Regionals with an 8-7 win over Pepperdine Sunday for the NCAA Stanford Regional tournament title.

Smith was an All-Pac 12 honorable mention and All-Stanford Regional Tournament player, as he went three for nine in three games with three runs scored and a run batted in through three tournament games. His best game of the tournament came Friday when he went two for four with two runs and a RBI in a win over Fresno State, 9-1.

It's another highlight in a breakout year for Smith, thanks to a position change he made from the middle infield to catcher during the offseason.

"Last year they were on a plane on their way back from the Super Regionals when [the Stanford coaches] told him they were going to make him a catcher," Nancy said. "He just started catching in the fall and won the starting position."

Smith has played in a career-high 52 games and started 48 so far this year after he appeared in 14 games as a sophomore. The junior has maintained a .330 batting average (60 for 182) after he batted .286 and .250 as a freshman and sophomore, respectively.

Smith has also scored 34 runs, posted 32 RBI, 11 doubles, two home runs and a triple to go along with .434 slugging, .379 on-base and .992 fielding percentages with three errors on 370 chances.

After this season is out of the way, Nancy hopes to one day use one of her season tickets to see her son in a Dodgers uniform.

"Well, that would be a dream come true," she said.

Olmedo-Barrera earned first-team All-Mission League honors this year at St. Francis with a team-high .410 (32 for 78) batting average, 15 runs scored, nine stolen bases, five RBI, five doubles and two triples with team-highs in on-base (.466) and slugging (.526) percentages.

The news he'd been drafted came as a surprise to Olmedo-Barrera, who wasn't even following the draft Wednesday and now has a tough decision to make after he'd previously planned on playing for Cal State Fullerton next season.

"Obviously, there is negotiating now," Olmedo-Barrera said. "We are going to sit down and talk with an agent and see what happens and what they offer. Hopefully, whatever I decide will be the best decision. We want to listen to what they have to say. … I just want to make the best decision for myself and my family."

It's a decision Smith must make, as well.

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