Former Eustace baseball star Devin Smeltzer hopes to be drafted this weekend

Bishop Eustace starter Devin Smeltzer during a May 2013 game. MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer

To Devin Smeltzer, the 140th pitch felt like the first.

"I had no idea my pitch count was that high," Smeltzer said. "I felt great."

Smeltzer, a sophomore left-handed pitcher at San Jacinto (Texas) Community College, threw 140 pitches in an 8-1 win over Chattahoochee (Ala.) Valley in the junior college national semifinals June 3.

He struck out 20.

He said he felt "great" the next day.

The overpowering performance highlighted Smeltzer's development in the two years since his graduation from Bishop Eustace and explained why he's such an intriguing professional prospect on the verge of the major-league baseball draft, which is set for Thursday through Saturday.

The 6-foot-3 Smeltzer put together a sensational season at San Jacinto, one of the top junior-college programs in the country.

San Jacinto competes at the Division I level, which means players can receive athletic scholarships. That's the difference between those programs and local top junior college programs such as Rowan College at Gloucester County and Cumberland County College.

Smeltzer, 20, was 9-3 with a 1.18 ERA. He had 128 strikeouts and just 23 walks in 91 2/3 innings.

"There are great coaches here," Smeltzer said. "They got my mechanics in check and really worked with me as a pitcher. I felt like I took off."

In the national semifinals, Smeltzer said his fastball sat consistently in the 88-mph range, with a couple of his best pitches touching 91 mph. He also threw a slider, curve and change up.

"I had command of all four pitches," Smeltzer said. "It was the best I felt all year."

Smeltzer, a childhood cancer survivor, was a first-team all-South Jersey selection as a senior at Bishop Eustace in 2014. He was selected in the 33rd round by the San Diego Padres but opted to honor his commitment to attend Florida Gulf Coast University on a baseball scholarship.

After one year at FGCU, Smeltzer transferred to San Jacinto. He has committed to attend Texas Tech on a baseball scholarship next year but could change course again depending on the draft.

Baseball America has Smeltzer ranked as the 244th prospect. He could be selected somewhere between the 5th and 10th round.

The slot money allocated for the first pick in the fifth round is $417,500 and for the last pick in the 10th round is $156,600, with a projected signing bonus for each slot in between falling between that range.

Teams are allowed to sign players for above or below slot.

"People can say you're going to be a second-round pick, but until your name is called you really have no clue," Smeltzer said. "I'm not going to get my hopes up like I did in high school. Whatever happens, happens."

Smeltzer said he plans to pitch again this summer in the Cape Cod League for top college players unless he signs with a professional team. He also is looking forward to continuing his career at Texas Tech.

But he's been dreaming of professional baseball for a long time.

"I'd love to get started on my pro career," Smeltzer said. "But I'll be excited to go to Texas Tech, too. I'm going to be happy either way."

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