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FARMINGTON – Trevor Smith aspires to one day play professional baseball, and he wanted to join a college program known for developing quality pitchers.

That ultimately led the Navajo Prep pitcher to sign with NCAA Division III Dean College today via athletic scholarship. Smith said the school’s alumni includes three-time World Series champion Tim Lincecum.

“They actually have a strong reputation (for developing pitchers). Hopefully if I keep going on with them for four years, I’ll make it up into the (Major League Baseball) draft,” Smith said.

Smith said Dean College, located in Franklin, Mass., is known for helping pitchers improve and fine-tune the velocity in their pitches, adding it’ll in turn improve his command even more.

Smith’s already adamant he can help the Bulldogs’ pitching staff right away because he has a strong fastball and three go-to off-speed pitches (curveball, slider and changeup).

Smith, a four-year starter at Prep, said his curveballs have helped him "in some nail-biters."

Playing at Dean College, Smith said he’s going to improve his arm strength so his curveball will be faster and drop down in the zone more.

Smith also said he’s trying to increase the strength and flexibility in his calves and thighs so he can push off the rubber quicker. He said that’ll in turn help raise his pitch velocity.

Like Lincecum once did, Smith has long hair on the mound. Also like Lincecum, Smith hopes having great, polished command, especially an “on-point” curveball, will lead to going pro.

“(I’m) beating the odds, basically. Not a lot of Native Americans get to play college baseball, and it feels like a great honor,” Smith said. “Just to make it this far and go further, it’s an even bigger opportunity.”

Tyler Pete signs with American Indian College men’s basketball

The Navajo Prep forward officially joined the Warriors today via full-ride scholarship.

Because he’s only 5-foot-11, Pete said he will change positions to shooting guard at AIC, a National Christian College Athletic Association program in Phoenix.

Shiprock athletes sign with college programs today

Kylie McKinley will play basketball at Little Priest Tribal College in Winnebago, Neb., while Cameron Begay will play baseball at Ridgewater Community College in Willmar, Minn.

Both are going on athletic scholarships.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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