A conversation with 2021 uncommitted RHP Maddux Smith, out of Southern Alamance High School, in Graham, NC, reveals a truth about the young man as player, and as a person. He’s an achiever. And that holds on the diamond, in the classroom and quite honestly in life.
The sixteen year old junior is the type individual able to rise to an occasion and get the very best out of himself. One notable piece of evidence to this recognition can be found in how Smith has used playing with the best as a member of the Dirtbags to be a motivating factor in his development.
Like all the other baseball players in NC, Smith is excited to test out the off-season development in just a few weeks once the games for the 2020 season get going. He says he’s anticipating good things from his fellow Southern Alamance Patriots, as they take a somewhat young team into tough Mid-Piedmont 3A conference. Whether this year or next, Maddux feels like the squad could make a run; at a conference title or even higher.
The summer season means playing with the Dirtbags on some of the top college facilities in the region as Smith and his teammates will be in action to pile up some wins and gain the attention of college programs in hopes to gain interest and offers. Maddux has taken cues from his previous campaigns as well as in watching some fellow Bags make commitments. He understands the process and has worked towards what it will take for him to make his own mark.
Of course the diamond will have to wait for him to get finished playing basketball for his Patriots. Always a competitor, he takes his 6’3” 200 pound frame onto the hardwood as a “stretch-big” forward.
But the push to play baseball at the next level has long been the goal for Smith. Having suited up with several teams at this stage of his career with the Bags, Maddux referenced being able to compete with such elite teammates has driven him to elevate his game. The righty offered some insight about playing with exceptional talent.
“It pushed me to get to that level. I wanted to reach that level,” he said.
Longtime Dirtbags skipper, Brent Haynes, who has coached Smith had this to say about the strides he has made, “Maddux is a hard worker who has really transformed his body and has worked his tail off to get better this off season.”
According to Maddux, the work this past off-season has centered on lifting and training with bands to loosen the actions in his delivery. The velo on the fastball has reflected that effort, already reaching 87 mph on the radar gun.
While the fastball numbers continue to climb, perhaps Smith’s greatest attribute is how he works and provides difficulty for hitters to feel comfortable in the box. From his fastball, to his 12:6 curveball, or even his changeup, Maddux competes on the bump.
Haynes agreed and recognized the style of his game by saying, “Maddux likes to work fast on the mound and goes right after guys with a 3 pitch mix. When he’s at his best he is getting a lot of ground balls and quick outs.”
The approach Smith takes on the mound allows him to attack hitters and establish his dominance as a pitcher; not simply responding to what the hitter provides as a guide to his plan. Instead he likes to get ahead to build his confidence and then be in charge of the “conversation.”
Those “conversations” can often be one-sided with Smith doing all the talking.
One could say Maddux carries a similar mindset into other areas of his pursuits, most notably academics. With a 4.5 GPA, he seems to have plenty of answers for much of what the classroom has thrown at him – that includes math classes like pre-calculus.
Brent Haynes also sees all of the attributes that Smith brings as a strong force that will ultimately deliver the right opportunity. Haynes remarked, “He’s a great student and is going to make a program very happy at the next level.”
The traits of being an achiever in life often brings people to point where they want to be around other achievers. And Smith admits the decision to be a Dirtbag was largely driven by this view. He recognized players within the organization commit to play college baseball at a high rate.
Even as the desire to play college baseball was a huge factor in joining the Dirtbags according to Maddux, he found the real value of the program went much deeper. Because Smith learned the culture of being a Dirtbag was very much like his own mentality in terms of how players operate.
When asked what it means to be a Dirtbag, Smith quickly responded, “Success and hard work. It means competing everyday to get better.”
And that’s just what achievers do. They take the steps to achieve. Everyday.