Three LA prep stars taken in first 16 of MLB Draft

With Darryl Strawberry, a former MLB lefty slugger from Los Angeles, at the Mets table for the 2013 MLB Draft, it seemed only fitting the the team from the borough of Queens would select a lefty slugger from Los Angeles.

With the 11th pick in the draft, the Mets did just that, selecting Serra first baseman/outfielder/pitcher Dominic Smith – a lefty slugger from Los Angeles.

Smith went against the grain, ditching football and basketball while electing to stick with baseball and playing in the MLB Urban Youth Academy since the age of 11. All the hard work paid off on Thursday night when MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced his name.

To top it off, he had the opportunity to shake hands and bump elbows with Strawberry, who hit 252 of his 335 career home runs with the Mets.

“It was great,” an ecstatic Smith said in a text message.

Last week, Smith struck out nine batters over 6.1 innings to lead the Cavaliers to the CIF Southern Section Division III championship. By doing so, Serra is believed to be the first predominantly African-American team to win a CIF Southern Section baseball title.

Smith was the second local high school player to be taken on the night. One pick before was Oaks Christian pitcher Phil Bickford with the No. 10 pick by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Bickford, a Cal State Fullerton commit, struck out 18 in his final start for the Lions to lead them to their first CIF Southern Section championship.

With the 16th pick in the draft, the Philadelphia Phillies selected Lakewood shortstop J.P. Crawford. Like Smith, Crawford grew up playing in the Urban Youth Academy and the two are very close friends. By being selected by the Phillies, Crawford, the cousin of Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford, will join an organization that took his former high school teammate Shane Watson in the first round last season. Crawford and Watson grew up playing together going all the way back to their T-ball days.

Crawford is not only excited to be reunited with Watson, but also for the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of 2007 National League MVP, Jimmy Rollins.

“Hopefully I can learn something from him and take his place,” Crawford told the MLB Network of the current Phillies shortstop.

Both Crawford and Smith are USC commits, although it’s not likely either of them will become a Trojan. As it stands, their friendship is headed East as National League East rivals keeping intact their long standing friendship and rivalry.

“I’m beyond excited,” Crawford said in a text message. “It feels great to be picked and (I) can’t wait for what my life holds next.”