Q&A with Kyle Smit

Right-hander Kyle Smit is one of four Cubs pitching prospects polishing his game in the Arizona Fall League this month. Smit was involved in the trade that sent Ted Lilly to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July.

Through five games in the AFL, the 23-year-old Smit is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA and six walks to five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. He is coming off arguably his best season since being drafted in the fifth round out of Spanish Springs (Nev.) High School in 2006, having posted a 2.49 ERA in 34 games with Single-A Inland Empire and a 1.96 mark in 12 games with Double-A Tennessee following the trade.

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Q: You had a pretty nice year in relief between the Dodgers' High-A club and Tennessee. All things considered, were you happy with how the season ended?

A: It's by far been my best season since I got drafted. The move from starting to the bullpen helped out a lot. I've got more confidence and better command of all my pitches.

Q: What has the work been like in the Arizona Fall League?

A: There's a great bunch of guys here having fun playing together and getting to know each other and stuff like that. It's been a blast so far.

Q: What have you been working on in particular with your pitches and what are you looking to refine?

A: I'm working on my secondary pitches for the most part (plus) fastball command, and I'm making adjustments in my mechanics.

Q: What is your repertoire and some of the secondary pitches you throw?

A: I throw a sinker, a slider and just now in the Fall League, I've started working on a splitter. So I've been working pretty much just on that and my slider since I've been here. My out-pitch right now is my splitter. When I was with the Dodgers, they had me start throwing it during Spring Training and I tried to take it into the season with me. I kind of stopped throwing it halfway through the season, but when I got to the Cubs and started talking with the pitching coordinator (Mark Riggins), he told me they wanted me to resume throwing it. It's something that's starting to come along and I'm throwing it more and more just getting used to the grip.

Q: I know you've had some starts, but it seems you haven't really been given your shot long-term at starting. What's been the real reason for that?

A: I'm not really sure. My first full season as a starter in rookie ball, I did really well and then as soon as I got moved up facing better hitters, I lost confidence in my pitches and lost confidence as a whole. During Spring Training this year, I got more comfortable throwing out of the bullpen and it just carried over into the season.

Q: How do you go about gaining that confidence back?

A: You have to work hard at it, but for me it's a lot easier as a reliever than as a starter. If you have a bad outing as a starter, you have four days in between to think about it and try to figure out what went wrong. As a reliever, you're out there the next day or two and have to put it behind you and go out and do your best.

Q: Do you see yourself maybe going back into a starter's role now that you're in a Cubs system that likes to try a lot of different guys out in the rotation?

A: You never know. It's whatever the Cubs want me to do, but I hope to stay in the bullpen. I like coming into pressure situations and being in those situations makes you want to be better and for me it gets more adrenaline going than as a starter when you know you're going to have to go through the lineup maybe three or four times. The hitters already know what you have as a reliever when you come in, so it gives you a little bit of an advantage.

Q: You've shown pretty good command, but would you say you're a hard-thrower?

A: My velocity picked up a little bit, maybe 2-3 mph as a reliever. I just try to go make pitches and get the hitter out as quickly as possible. I'd say I'm anywhere from 93 to 96 mph.

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