October 4, 2022
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Jackson Smeltz ‘thankful’ as former Purdue, McCutcheon baseball standout begins pro career

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WEST LAFAYETTE – The moment of reflection for Jackson Smeltz didn’t come after the San Diego Padres selected the smooth and powerful left-hander in the 10th round of last week’s MLB Draft.

It happened the day before the selection process as the ace of last year’s Purdue staff finished his workout at McCutcheon, a place where he was a standout and started his development to become one of the top pitchers in the Big Ten.

“I sat down, and I was smiling,” said Smeltz, who plans to sign with the Padres. “I knew I had done everything that I could up until to this point. There was no stone left unturned. I did exactly what I needed to do. I was just thankful.”

To understand Smeltz’s emotions, you need to understand how he arrived at this point.

Adversity has come in the form of a concussion in junior high playing football, after returning from a groin injury, but that allowed doctors to discover – and remove – a noncancerous tumor in his brain, the root of constant headaches.

Purdue pitcher Jackson Smeltz (17) winds up in the Bellarmine Knights at Purdue Boilermakers baseball game, Thursday Mar. 10, 2022 in West Lafayette.

The one-time Oklahoma State commitment pitched just three innings in his final three years at McCutcheon after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.

And following the pandemic season in 2020, he underwent surgery for an injured hip labrum. Throw in an injured lat muscle, which shut down his 2022 season, and Smeltz has dealt with plenty.

“Without those trials, without those obstacles I had to overcome – injuries, the health problems – I see those as a gift from God,” he said. “I truly would not be in the position I am right now without those. I wouldn’t be the man I am without what God had me go through. He put me through those things for a reason.”



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