Orioles sign Mark Smith, 1st-round pick in draft Outfielder's 1st game will be in Class A

July 19, 1991|By Kent Baker

Outfielder Mark Smith, the Baltimore Orioles' first-round pick in the amateur draft last month, signed with the club yesterday.

No contract terms were disclosed, but assistant general manager Doug Melvin said, "All the first-rounders fall in line with the other signings."

Smith's agent, Arn Tellum, said his client, the ninth selection in the draft, received a bonus higher than that of all the first-rounders signed so far, except for that of David McCarthy, the No. 3 choice overall ($400,000).

According to figures compiled by Baseball America, the No. 7 overall, Joe Vitiello, agreed to a $345,000 bonus from the Kansas City Royals.

The Orioles have signed their first 16 selections from the 1991 draft for the first time in club history.

"Mark was eager to get going," said Tellum. "I think this was about an average [negotiation] time for a first-round choice."

"Everything worked out to my satisfaction," Smith said from his California home. "I'd rather not get into the contract and how much it is worth.

"In a way, the negotiations were difficult. It was tough to wait. But I'm happy it's over, and I'm excited to go out and play."

Smith will leave California today for Bluefield, W.Va., where he will work out with the Orioles' rookie league team for an indefinite period.

"We just want to see what kind of shape he's in. He's been working out and is probably not too far away from playing," said Melvin. "Then he will be activated at Frederick [Class A] sometime toward the end of next week.

"At this stage, that is the best place for him to play because of the level where he is and the fact that it's close to Baltimore."

Smith, an All-American last season at Southern Cal, batted .336 with 16 home runs and 80 RBI, tying Mark McGwire for the third-best single-season total in school history.

His 166 RBI top the Trojans' career list, and his 28 homers tie him for eighth with Fred Lynn.

Last summer in the fast Cape Cod League, he batted .406, becoming the first player to exceed .400 since the league went to wooden bats six years ago.

"I think that's one of the things that got me drafted so high," said Smith.

He is regarded as an all-around outfielder in the mold of Kevin McReynolds with an arm strong enough to play right field, power and some speed.

"He fills one of our biggest needs," said Melvin. "A top outfielder with productive power."

Smith said: "I don't think I have flashy tools like a Darryl Strawberry. But I think I can give a team good defense and good hitting."

Smith said he has no qualms about starting in Class A, although he reasoned that he might have started a level higher had he signed earlier.

"My goal right now is to get 30 to 40 games in before the summer's over," he said. "I'm just going to go in and try to get adjusted.

"I don't have any timetable for getting to the majors. As soon as I can. I wouldn't want to set a timetable and get there sooner or later."

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