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Mariners select HS OF Aidan Smith in the fourth round of the 2023 MLB Draft

Mariners snag the best pure hitter out of the Texas high school ranks in the fourth round

MLB: MLB Draft Combine
Aidan Smith continues the prep player surge
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With their fourth-round pick, the Mariners have gone back to the high school ranks again, taking high-upside outfielder Aidan Smith from Lovejoy HS in Texas.

The Mariners have maximized their “prizing hit tools in prep players” philosophy with Smith, who hit for a bonkers .483 average at his Texas high school; through the first 17 games of the season, he was hitting .608. And this isn’t some backwater burg where he’s beating up on hapless pitchers: Lovejoy is in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, playing highly competitive teams from one of America’s baseball hotbeds. Smith, who has worked regularly with Trevor Story’s hitting coach Brandon Sherard on things like pitch recognition and hitting to all fields, has an advanced approach at the plate, rarely striking out, and has earned praise as one of the best pure hitters available in this draft, and the best in that area among the Texas high school class.

With a 6’3”, strong and athletic frame already, Smith projects to grow into more power, although currently he’s more of a doubles hitter and his primary focus is on driving the ball to all fields rather than selling out for power. He’s a plus runner whose speed could keep him in center, although he also has the arm strength for right field if he needs to move to a corner. But the carrying tool here is definitely the bat, which might have even been overlooked in this deep draft for high school prospects.

Smith was listed as’s 78th best prospect. The Mariners will need to go significantly overslot to sign the Mississippi State commit. However, since Smith is one of the two Mississippi State baseball commits to not enroll in a second summer session at the university (along with first-rounder Colin Houck), it seems like he’s likely bound for pro ball.

Maybe there’s no higher praise draped on Smith’s bat than from his coach:

“Every single day, I watch him do things that I’ve never seen anybody else do,” Lovejoy coach Ryan Gros said. “I’ve played and coached a lot of high-level players. He just hits balls in ways that no one else does. There’s pitches that are made that would get almost anybody out; they don’t get him out.”

“He doesn’t even get enough recognition for how special he is. There’s no amount of recognition that can meet the way he’s playing the game.”