Following his prep career in Ocala, Fla., Smith was drafted straight out of high school by Minnesota in 2003. He was later selected in the 46th round by the Angels a year later, and last season by the Cubs in the 35th round.
After deciding to return to Clemson for his senior season last year, Smith awarded the Tigers by batting .336 with 13 home runs, 13 doubles and 56 RBIs in 64 games as the team's starting third baseman.
After being drafted last year by the Cubs, how hard was it to decide to return to Clemson for your senior season?
It was pretty tough. I thought pretty hard about what I wanted to do. I had only been at Clemson for one year and I didn't really have that great of a year. One of the deciding factors in coming back was that I thought I could go out and put up better numbers than I had the year before; maybe go out on a little bit of a higher note than I did the year before.
I knew we were going to have a good chance of getting back to Omaha this year. I wanted to come back and try to get out there again. There were a few different factors that made my decision for me, but it was pretty tough.
Are you a better ballplayer for having gone back to college for another year?
Probably not necessarily. Obviously, coming back doesn't hurt because you build relationships in college that you won't ever have again in your lifetime. I don't think it hurt me coming back and I worked on a few things that could help me.
What would some of those things be?
For one, I lost a little bit of weight this past year. Other than that, I tried improving my quickness a little and driving the ball to the opposite field a little more. I tweaked a few things with my swing. I'm always trying to make that better. I tried to get a little faster and stronger in the weight room.
Was your weight (5'10", 210 pounds) something that concerned you?
Not really. Obviously if you lose weight, it should make you a little quicker, which is going to help me in all aspects of the game. I knew it was something that would benefit me and I knew it wouldn't take much; just a little bit of working out hard. I wasn't too worried about it.
How much weight would you say you lost?
I lost probably about 10 pounds, but I've also put on a lot of muscle since last year.
How would you describe your swing and the kind of numbers you're capable of putting up right away?
My approach at the plate is to try and drive the ball to all parts of the field. I'm not a humongous power guy, but I am going to hit you some home runs. I'm not going to be the guy hitting 30 home runs, but I'll have my share of them and will hit some balls out. I think hitting is something that's kind of carried me through my whole career.
Defensively, the Cubs have a few guys at third base scattered throughout the farm system, presumably including first-round pick Josh Vitters. What do you think about your future at third?
It's something I can't really control. They have some great players at that position, but all I can do is go out and start every day. Hopefully, I'll find my way up there somehow. I know it's going to be tough, but I'll go out and play hard every day, and give it all I've got.
Can you play any other positions?
I've played a little bit everywhere. I played a few games at second last year at Clemson. I played maybe a few innings at short and I've played a little bit of all of them. Versatility-wise, I should be OK.
Being drafted two years in a row by the same club doesn't happen often in this organization. What is it that you think the Cubs see in you?
That I can't really tell you. It is pretty rare, but it's a great thing. They had interest in me last year and they did again this year. I can't tell you exactly what they liked, but it's a good thing.