June 11, 2016
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Two West Virginia University baseball players were selected on the third day of the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Saturday.
Donato, who was picked by his hometown team, is the fourth Mountaineer ever picked by the Astros. Smith is the second WVU player to be drafted by the Angels.
WVU has had 14 draft selection in coach Randy Mazey’s four seasons, the most draft picks in a four-year stretch in team history. At least two West Virginia players have been drafted in each of Mazey’s four seasons. With this year’s two MLB draft picks, there have been 84 Mountaineer draft selections since the first draft was held in 1965.
Currently, there are 15 former Mountaineers playing professional baseball.
Along with Donato and Smith, WVU signee Jordan Scott was selected in the 14th round by the New York Yankees with the 428th overall pick.
Named to the All-Big 12 First Team as a junior in 2016, Donato tied for the Big 12 lead with 15 starts. He struck out a Big 12-best 111 batters, tied for fifth-most in a single season in program history. In 96.1 innings, Donato earned a 3.27 ERA, sixth in the Big 12, and a 1.96 ERA in Big 12 action, second-best in the league. A Cypress, Texas, native, he compiled a 3-4 record with seven quality starts.
“I am more than blessed to be picked in the 2016 draft, and better yet by my hometown team, the Houston Astros,” said Donato. “It’s been my lifelong dream to become a professional baseball player. I want to thank all of my coaches along the way and especially the West Virginia family and staff. Thank you for everything you’ve done to make my lifelong dream come true. Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer. Hail WVU!”
Smith made 25 appearances in his senior season at WVU and was named to the All-Big 12 Honorable Mention Team. He recorded eight saves, second-most in a single season in program history. Smith, from Tyler, Texas, posted a team-best 2.20 ERA in 32.2 innings with 42 strikeouts and 15 walks. He held opponents to a .214 batting average.
“I couldn’t be more excited to start my professional career,” said Smith. “It’s something that I’ve dreamed about for a while now and I’m just ready to get there and get started. Thanks to my Mountaineer family for everything during my two years at WVU. I couldn’t have made it to this point without them and I am very grateful for the opportunity that they gave me.”
Underclassmen have until July 15 to decide whether they wish to pursue professional careers or return to WVU.