Q&A: Mets 3rd round pick Joe Smith

A side-arming reliever from Wright State (Ohio) University, Joe Smith was selected by the New York Mets in the third round (94th overall) of Tuesday's draft. An instrumental part of the Raiders' push into the NCAA Tournament, Smith was 3-1 with a 0.98 ERA in 31 appearances, striking out 63 and giving up just five extra base hits in 55 innings.

The 22-year-old Smith – who once walked onto the baseball team at Wright State and worked out with the team earlier in his career, despite being cut – was recently named WSU's Male Athlete of the Year as well as the 2006 team MVP.

He joined Inside Pitch's Bryan Hoch for a Draft Day Q&A:

Congratulations on being selected by the Mets today. What was your reaction?

It was actually funny, because (my friends) told me the list of names that were coming up to pick, and I said, 'Man, I haven't even talked to any of those teams.' I quit watching the computer screen. I was there with four of my friends and my pitching coach, and the next thing you know, they're all screaming and yelling and jumping on me. I was like, 'You've got to let me see my name on there.' I didn't believe it.

So you would say that the Mets drafting you was a real surprise?

Yeah. I think I filled out a questionnaire for them in the beginning of the season, and I haven't heard anything from them at all. But I talked to the scout that drafted me, and he said that's how he likes to do things. He said he wanted me from Day 1, so that's great. I didn't need a phone call during the season. I just needed one now today, and that's all that matters.

What did you discuss with the Mets on the phone call?

Just kind of working out a time to meet. My dad's out in Denver right now in meetings for business, so we're trying to figure out a time to work all this stuff out. They said I'll probably go down to Florida for a week-long minicamp, and that was about it. They said that we'll talk about the rest later.

Could you tell us a little bit about how you got started as a sidearm pitcher?

I was just goofing around one day. I came in throwing overhand, and our coaches said, 'Hey, who can throw sidearm?' I was one of the last guys they asked to do it, but I just got up on the mound that day and threw a couple of pitches. They told me, 'You're staying like that.' I was pretty hesitant at first, but after that, I kept on doing well and it kept working. I just stuck with it and it turned out pretty damn good, if you ask me.

Coach (Rob) Cooper was telling us that in the last year or two, you really began to focus on professional baseball. What sparked that?

Just basically them telling me that I could actually do it, and giving me the confidence to do it. At first, I was like, 'It might happen.' But they kept drilling it into my head that it can happen, if you want it bad enough. I dropped 20 pounds in the fall and came into the season in the best shape of my life, so I was ready to go.

What did you have to do to get into shape for the season?

I had to eat right. I got on a diet that I got from one of our assistant coaches, and followed that all the way through the winter along with a workout plan. Instead of lifting three days a week, I was working out four to five days a week. It helped.

What was the toughest part of that?

Eating right. (Smith laughs) I like to eat. I love it. But other than that, this has been my dream for a long time, to get drafted and play.

What are your thoughts on the possibility of pitching in New York someday? Do you think that's going to be for you?

I'm sure I'm going to love it there. It'd be awesome. If I can make it up there with Billy Wagner still closing, and pitch before him and come in before him, that's awesome. I've always looked up to him and I love watching him pitch.

As a sidearm pitcher, are there other major league pitchers that you watch and try to take things from?

I watch Chad Bradford whenever I can. That's weird that he's on the Mets, because on every video baseball game I play, he's my No. 1 draft pick. I always take one pitcher and it's him.

Your repertoire is listed as a fastball, a slider and a changeup. How have those pitches developed and changed in the last couple of years?

They've all improved with velocity and especially with location. I think it's just another year under my belt throwing that way (sidearm), because I've only been throwing that way for like two years. It's looking good. Hopefully it keeps improving and I can get my location even better. We'll see what happens from there.

The thing I noticed from the videos online was that the break on your slider looks pretty significant. How do you feel about that pitch?

I've been told it's pretty good. Hopefully I can keep that up and improve it even more if I can. I actually learned it when I was throwing overhand. I was out in a New England league and one of the guys out there taught me. I didn't really have a good curveball at all, so I started throwing it and it was more like a slurve. Once I went down sidearm, it only helped.

What's your sense of the way things might go with the Mets? Do you think you might sign quickly and start your professional career?

Oh yeah. I anticipate it. I'm ready to go play pro ball right now. I can't wait to get out of there and start playing. We'll talk about all that.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nThe 22-year-old Smith – who once walked onto the baseball team at Wright State and worked out with the team earlier in his career, despite being cut – was recently named WSU's Male Athlete of the Year as well as the 2006 team MVP. \r\n

\r\nHe joined Inside Pitch's Bryan Hoch for a Draft Day Q&A:\r\n

\r\nCongratulations on being selected by the Mets today. What was your reaction?\r\n

\r\nIt was actually funny, because (my friends) told me the list of names that were coming up to pick, and I said, 'Man, I haven't even talked to any of those teams.' I quit watching the computer screen. I was there with four of my friends and my pitching coach, and the next thing you know, they're all screaming and yelling and jumping on me. I was like, 'You've got to let me see my name on there.' I didn't believe it.\r\n

\r\nSo you would say that the Mets drafting you was a real surprise?\r\n

\r\nYeah. I think I filled out a questionnaire for them in the beginning of the season, and I haven't heard anything from them at all. But I talked to the scout that drafted me, and he said that's how he likes to do things. He said he wanted me from Day 1, so that's great. I didn't need a phone call during the season. I just needed one now today, and that's all that matters.\r\n

\r\nWhat did you discuss with the Mets on the phone call?\r\n

\r\nJust kind of working out a time to meet. My dad's out in Denver right now in meetings for business, so we're trying to figure out a time to work all this stuff out. They said I'll probably go down to Florida for a week-long minicamp, and that was about it. They said that we'll talk about the rest later.\r\n

\r\nCould you tell us a little bit about how you got started as a sidearm pitcher?\r\n

\r\nI was just goofing around one day. I came in throwing overhand, and our coaches said, 'Hey, who can throw sidearm?' I was one of the last guys they asked to do it, but I just got up on the mound that day and threw a couple of pitches. They told me, 'You're staying like that.' I was pretty hesitant at first, but after that, I kept on doing well and it kept working. I just stuck with it and it turned out pretty damn good, if you ask me.\r\n

\r\nCoach (Rob) Cooper was telling us that in the last year or two, you really began to focus on professional baseball. What sparked that?\r\n

\r\nJust basically them telling me that I could actually do it, and giving me the confidence to do it. At first, I was like, 'It might happen.' But they kept drilling it into my head that it can happen, if you want it bad enough. I dropped 20 pounds in the fall and came into the season in the best shape of my life, so I was ready to go.\r\n

\r\nWhat did you have to do to get into shape for the season?\r\n

\r\nI had to eat right. I got on a diet that I got from one of our assistant coaches, and followed that all the way through the winter along with a workout plan. Instead of lifting three days a week, I was working out four to five days a week. It helped.\r\n

\r\nWhat was the toughest part of that?\r\n

\r\nEating right. (Smith laughs) I like to eat. I love it. But other than that, this has been my dream for a long time, to get drafted and play. \r\n

\r\nWhat are your thoughts on the possibility of pitching in New York someday? Do you think that's going to be for you?\r\n

\r\nI'm sure I'm going to love it there. It'd be awesome. If I can make it up there with Billy Wagner still closing, and pitch before him and come in before him, that's awesome. I've always looked up to him and I love watching him pitch.\r\n

\r\nAs a sidearm pitcher, are there other major league pitchers that you watch and try to take things from?\r\n

\r\nI watch Chad Bradford whenever I can. That's weird that he's on the Mets, because on every video baseball game I play, he's my No. 1 draft pick. I always take one pitcher and it's him.\r\n

\r\nYour repertoire is listed as a fastball, a slider and a changeup. How have those pitches developed and changed in the last couple of years?\r\n

\r\nThey've all improved with velocity and especially with location. I think it's just another year under my belt throwing that way (sidearm), because I've only been throwing that way for like two years. It's looking good. Hopefully it keeps improving and I can get my location even better. We'll see what happens from there.\r\n

\r\nThe thing I noticed from the videos online was that the break on your slider looks pretty significant. How do you feel about that pitch?\r\n

\r\nI've been told it's pretty good. Hopefully I can keep that up and improve it even more if I can. I actually learned it when I was throwing overhand. I was out in a New England league and one of the guys out there taught me. I didn't really have a good curveball at all, so I started throwing it and it was more like a slurve. Once I went down sidearm, it only helped.\r\n

\r\nWhat's your sense of the way things might go with the Mets? Do you think you might sign quickly and start your professional career?\r\n

\r\nOh yeah. I anticipate it. I'm ready to go play pro ball right now. I can't wait to get out of there and start playing. 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