MOUNT PLEASANT - When Cayden Smith committed to play baseball for Kent State University, his father Rick Smith, a former Central Michigan University baseball player, was beyond happy to see his son achieve his own goals even if it meant playing for a MAC opponent.
“When Cayden is playing, I’ll be rooting for Kent State University,” said Rick. “But Central Michigan will always be my alma mater.”
Rick Smith, a Big Rapids native, played for the Chippewas and was drafted in the 28th round of the 1995 MLB draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. He reached a goal many dream about, but he had to grow in size to get there. A parallel for the Smiths.
“At the beginning, baseball was actually really tough for me because I was an extremely small kid,” said Cayden. “I matured very late. As I got older it became a lot more enjoyable for me and I fell even more in love with the game now that I’ve been more successful.”
Growing up, Rick played all over the diamond just like Cayden does right now. Once Rick reached the collegiate playing level, he settled at first base. But Cayden will continue to be a right-handed pitcher, shortstop and hitter at Kent State. A concept that drew him to the Golden Flashes.
“I thought I was going to pick one or the other, like and I didn’t know if I wanted to go shortstop,” said Cayden. “Some people think I’m a better pitcher...but I just realized that I was good at both. Kent State offered that idea up and so that’s what I pursued.”
Cayden committed in the winter of his junior year of high school after showing off his sophomore year. He topped out in the low 90s when on the hill, while also displaying agility and strength at short and when batting.
“He is far more athletic than I ever was,” said Rick. “I’m just impressed with his athletic ability and his ability to be smooth fielding the ball and he is a good hitter. He pitches well too. He’s got a good combination of skills.”
Cayden is ecstatic about his decision and the opportunities to come, but being able to make his father proud just adds to what lies ahead.
“I’m going to be honest, there is a little bit of pressure being the kid when his dad goes to play college and gets drafted,” said Cayden. “When I got that first offer from Kent State, I was like, I did it I achieved that goal. And I think he was excited that I achieved that goal too.”