Michael Smith, Right-Handed Pitcher
HT : 6'0
WT : 195 lb
DOB : January 31, 1990, Mansfield, Texas
Throws : Right
Bats : Right
School : Dallas Baptist University (Dallas, Texas)
Acquired : Drafted 29th round (877th overall) of 2013 June Draft
Stock : Neutral
Cool Notes : Twitter bio speaks for itself, "If you aint smilin, you aint livin." / Pudge Rodriguez fan! (YES!)
When people refer to grinders in baseball, it tends to be about offensive guys. However, Michael Smith is a solid grinder right from the mound with a high confidence level. We welcome you to meet a man with a strong future ahead, and one of our favorite guys for his grinding ability.
Michael Smith is about as sure a thing you could get. He's found his place as a reliever and attacks perfectly. He's got a standard arsenal with quality pitches. He has one nitch though that puts him above the rest.
His favorite player growing up was Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, and if you know anything about Pudge, you know about how the kind of competitor he was. Michael Smith compares. Smith's competitive style makes him an even better reliever due to his confidence on the mound and strength knowing he can compete against any batter.
Smith is strongest one on one, and tends to get in a small amount of trouble with runners on. This is where he'll need to make small adjustments to take on that next level game.
Smith throws a four-seam fastball that has good running movement and sits anywhere from the high 80's to mid 90's. His strong pitch though is his changeup, which comes from a circle change grip and has strong run with it, which allows him to keep batters off balance. He relies on this pitch to pitch away with confidence against left-handed bats.
Smith doesn't have trouble with command, and uses both of his stronger pitches to collect weak contact and a large amount of ground ball outs.
Smith is very coachable and has grown well as a pitcher since coming from college, and progresses even more with each year, month, week. Due to his hard work, he could become a quietly strong prospect coming up in the higher levels of the minor leagues.
In three seasons at Dallas Baptist University, Smith put together an 11-3 record in 75 games (one game started). He held a 4.41 ERA and 1.517 WHIP, while walking just 3.33 per nine and striking out 7.69 per nine.
Smith was by far the strongest relief pitcher for the Orem Owlz in 2013, coming right out of the draft and shining with a 1.95 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and .269 against average. Smith quieted right-handed bats with a .205/.237/.315 against slash, and did not allow more than one run in any of his 21 outings. Another shining statistic that may have been his largest standout was his 2.94 groundout to air out rate.
2014 was a new year for Smith against tougher bats at both Class-A levels, but he still managed to quiet offenses with 19 scoreless outings in 44 appearances. In a stretch from mid July to the end of August, Smith put together a streak of 13 outings where he went to the mound 12 times without allowing a run (19.2 innings pitched). Smith finished 2014 with a 4.01 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, and .310 on base percentage against.
Michael Smith proved he can pitch with the big boys, but might need some extra work in 2015 finding ways to hold runners, which makes us believe he'll be back in the Cal League learning a few quirks in his game.
Michael Smith doesn't come with a Major League arsenal, but with his high level to compete and will to work hard and listen to coaches, we feel Michael Smith could have a Major League future. With all that said, it may take some time to do so. There is no set ETA for Smith, but don't be shocked if you hear his name called in the next two-four seasons.
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Taylor Blake Ward is a Senior Publisher for InsideTheHalos.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.