Smith To Debut Tonight In Toronto

After being acquired by the Oakland A's as part of the Dan Haren trade this past December, Greg Smith made a strong first impression on his new club. He was one of the Catcus League's best pitchers this spring and nearly won a spot in the A's rotation coming out of spring training. With Justin Duchscherer on the DL, the A's are calling on Smith to fill his spot. Learn more about him inside...

Despite not possessing overpowering stuff, Greg Smith has done nothing but pitch effectively since turning pro in 2005. Coming into the 2008 season, Smith had thrown 352.2 minor league innings. Over that stretch, Smith had posted a career 3.27 ERA and a roughly 3:1 K:BB ratio despite pitching many of those innings in two of the most favorable leagues for offense in minor league baseball - the Cal League and the PCL. Smith also found success pitching for Team USA in the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Panama (where he was teammates with A's catcher Kurt Suzuki) and in the Arizona Fall League (where he had a 2.61 ERA).

After being acquired by the A's from the Arizona Diamondbacks this December, Smith arrived this spring with the goal of making a strong impression on his new club. He did just that by posting a 1.50 ERA and allowing only 17 base-runners in 18 innings during spring training. Only Dana Eveland, who was acquired with Smith in the Dan Haren trade, had a better ERA for the A's this spring.

Smith was assigned to Triple-A Sacramento at the start of the season and he was the team's Opening Day starter. The left-hander was effective in the cold and mist in Tacoma, Washington, going six strong innings and allowing two runs on six hits. He struck-out four and walked one.

The A's have tapped Smith to take Justin Duchscherer's start in Toronto on Wednesday. Duchscherer was placed on the DL on Tuesday with a strained right bicep. The start will be Smith's major league debut, less than three years after he was selected by Arizona in the sixth round of the 2005 draft.

Below is a brief profile of Smith:

Vital Stats:
Name: Greg Smith
DOB: 12/22/83
H/W: 6'2''/ 190 LB
B/T: L/L Scouting Report

Greg Smith relies on excellent command of his secondary pitches to off-set a fastball that sits in the mid- to high-80s, occasionally touching 90 MPH. He has an outstanding change-up and a solid, over-hand curveball that has a significant bend. He can control both pitches well and does a good job mixing in his off-speed pitches to make his fastball appear harder. In 2007, Smith dominated left-handed hitters, holding lefties to a .215 BAA. Right-handers hit .298 off of Smith.

Smith is a good athlete and sports an impressive .333 BA and 912 OPS in 38 career minor league at-bats. He fields his position well and, like many lefties, does a good job controlling the running game. Smith has been a starter throughout his minor league career, and he has done a good job working late into games. He has had good health throughout his career.

Smith is a flyball pitcher, something that hasn't hurt him too badly in the minor leagues despite pitching in a number of homer-friendly ballparks. He has allowed only 26 homers in 352.2 career minor league innings. Smith doesn't strike out a lot of batters, but his command is good enough that he tends to miss the good part of hitters' bats.

A's Baseball Operations Manager Farhan Zaidi's Take On Smith During Spring Training

"Greg Smith, to me, has been one of the most impressive players in camp. From his first bullpen, you could tell that this is a guy who has a plan and is not throwing for the [speed] guns at all. It is easy to lump him in with a lot of the other finesse lefties that you see coming up through the minors and having a lot of success. Some of those guys are trick-pitch guys; some of those guys are just doing it with their savvy. But he's really a mix of all of those things. He can get it up to 90-91 when he wants to, but he is probably more comfortable working in the mid- to high-80s. That is when he can spot his fastball the best."

"He's got a real quality breaking ball and a quality change-up and nothing is ever in the middle of the plate. He is doing it by mixing up his pitches and hitting his spots. He has really looked like a big league-ready starting pitcher."

"This is a guy who we believe has the secondary pitches and the command and more than anything else, just the competitiveness and the moxie to be successful. Our scouts have said, to a man, that this is a guy who pitches above his stuff."

Smith On Himself

"I never had a favorite player or a guy that I emulated or anything like that. It was always analysts and critics who told me, ‘you are like a Tom Glavine or a like a left-handed Greg Maddux' or something like that, so I was like, ‘okay, I guess so then.' But I never put myself up against somebody or compared myself to somebody else. It was just the way that I did something that I focused on, rather than focusing on someone else."

"I'm not going to overpower you. I try not to. If I do, that is really not my style. I'm more of a ‘hit a location' or ‘keep the ball down' kind of guy. I'm not going to overpower you, not going to throw 98 or anything. I'm just going to try to get an out."

Question: What pitches are you throwing at this point?

Greg Smith: Fastball – two-seam and four-seam – a cutter, a curveball and a change-up.

Question: Is there one that you go to as your out-pitch?

Greg Smith: Well, not to give away my strategy or anything. [laughs] But to be honest with you, on any given day, if I feel more comfortable with any given pitch then I'll go with that. If my curveball isn't working that day, then I have a change-up that I am really confident in or a cutter that I am really confident in. So if one of my pitches isn't working that day, I'll just go to another one.

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