Which One is the Real Kyle Smit?

Kyle Smit has been a Dodger for a little over a year now. In that relatively short period of time the Dodgers have seen so many versions of him, it's no wonder that there are different opinions on exactly what they have.

First, there was Kyle Smit, the amateur prospect- the one they scouted while he was pitching for Spanish Springs High in Sparks, Nevada, a Reno suburb.

There were moments when he flashed enough stuff that he seemed to be the best pitching prospect in the whole state; others, when he didn't look that good. Even while he was pitching for a team that wasn't strong enough to make the playoffs, he displayed enough stuff to inspire the Dodgers to select him in the fifth round of the 2006 draft.

He reported to the Gulf Cost team, only to have them discover almost immediately that he was suffering from a bad back. They nursed through that and when he finally got to the mound, they used him in relief.

Here they saw Kyle Smit, the closer for he quickly racked up three saves. On a team that had lacked a pitcher who could come in and shut the opposition down at the end, he seemed the answer.

But then Smit the invalid returned for his back flared up again. He was forced to the sidelines after having worked only six games and 11 innings to throw no more in completion that year.

He reappeared this past spring in shape and soon he became Smit the starter. He was just about the most reliable pitcher they had in the extended camp, flashing a low 90's fast ball, a good curve and a promising change. So, he became the number one man on this year's Gulf Coast staff.

He kept right on being dominant, too. So much so that he was the ace for a team that was romping through its division, making a mockery of the race.

He himself was 4-0 with 30 strikeouts in 38. 1 innings with only 13 walks when it was decided that he needed more of a challenge than the Gulf Coast League could offer. Soon he skipped right over Ogden and was sent to Great Lakes.

Whereupon Smit the dominant became dominated instead. In game after game he ran into trouble and was blown away. He still seemed to have his good stuff but that was clearly not enough.

A coach who watched him in a game reported, "When he went right after people, he was fine. But he didn't seem to trust himself and started nibbling and that's when they ate him up."

That's a fault that often occurs when a young pitcher moves up quickly. He wonders if he has enough to compete so alters his style and his downfall becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In contrast to his gaudy record with the Gulf Coasties, Smit finished the year at Great Lakes with an 0-5 record and an 8.34 ERA. The stuff nightmares are made of, not pleasant dreams.

And yet there's the fact that he whiffed 26 batters in 22.2 innings while walking only 12. Now, that's an indication of the potential he possesses

. So, he spent the fall in the Arizona Instructional League where they reshaped his psyche to give him the knowledge and confidence that he has what it takes to win at higher levels. If it works, then they may see Smit the true prospect emerge once more.

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