Top Prospect #50: LHP Bud Smith

When the Phillies traded Scott Rolen to the Cardinals, Bud Smith was supposed to be part of the deal that would help the Phillies down that proverbial road. Instead, the road most travelled for Smith has been the one to and from the doctor's office. Even with all of the injuries, Bud Smith can not be completely forgotten when fans talk about Phillies prospects. He's got enough talent that if he overcomes the injuries – which isn't out of the question – he can help at the major league level.

It's not easy to get noticed by major league scouts when you come out of Los Angeles Harbor Community College. Somehow though, Bud Smith caught an eye or two along the way and wound up being signed by the St.Louis Cardinals. Smith hit the minors in 1998 and in 2001 – at the age of just 21 – he came to the Cardinals major league team and started 14 games. Going 6-3, 3.85 wasn't enough to keep Smith on the Cardinals major league roster next spring though and he went back to Memphis to start the season.

 

Smith wasn't one to be kept down for long though and he was soon back in the majors, although he wasn't quite right. Nobody could quite put their finger on it, but Smith just didn't have the same fluid motion on the mound. Before too long, his ERA ballooned to over 6.00 and soon after that, Smith admitted that there was pain in his elbow. Initially, things didn't look too bad and the Cardinals simply put their young lefty on the DL for some rest.

 

Before long, the Phillies were shopping Scott Rolen to St.Louis and Smith was one of the names that they were looking to get in exchange. They knew about the arm problem, but when the deal was made, a physical again showed that it wasn't bad enough to worry about and the Phillies accepted Smith as part of the package. Sure enough, the rest seemed to help and Smith looked better pitching at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre, but again, the pain returned. Now, the Phillies were worried and as they delved deeper into Smith's anatomy, they discovered that they had a pretty seriously injured pitcher on their hands.

 

In 2003, Smith was again back and forth between the disabled list and being able to pitch. The Phillies started him out at Clearwater to keep him in the warm Florida sunshine and to keep a close eye on him. The reports were good and when the weather warmed, Smith headed to Reading where he was able to make eight starts. Smith struggled with pain and inconsistency throughout the season and went 1-1, 5.35 with the Reading Phillies.

 

The Phillies hope that Smith can return to the form that he had in the "old days" with St.Louis. There is still time for them to realize a long major league career from Smith, since he is still just 23 and if the pain doesn't return, he could move along quickly. When he's on, Smith can be dominating. His minor league numbers are impressive and when he was healthy, major league hitters couldn't seem to figure him out. Smith and the Phillies know that the 2004 season will likely determine a lot for the young lefty. If he is truly recovered, he should shine and potentially be able to help the major league club. If not, then the concern is whether he will ever truly be able to recover physically and perhaps, mentally to return to the potential that the Phillies saw when they acquired him from St.Louis in the Scott Rolen trade.

 

Bud Smith's career numbers

 

Year/League

W

L

ERA

SV

G

GS

IP

H/9IP

BB/9IP

K/9IP

1998 Johnson City (Rookie)

3

3

5.18

0

14

14

64.1

11.9

4.8

9.1

1999 Potomac (A)

4

9

2.96

0

18

18

103.1

7.9

2.8

8.1

1999 Peoria (A)

4

1

2.83

0

9

9

54.0

8.8

2.7

9.8

2000 Arkansas (AA)

12

1

2.33

0

18

18

108.2

7.7

2.2

8.4

2000 Memphis (AAA)

5

1

2.15

0

9

8

54.1

6.7

2.5

5.6

2001 Memphis (AAA)

8

5

2.75

0

17

17

108.0

9.5

2.3

6.5

2001 St.Louis

6

3

3.85

0

16

14

84.2

8.4

2.5

6.3

2002 Memphis (AAA)

3

0

2.13

0

6

6

38.0

7.8

3.1

8.1

2002 Scranton (AAA)

0

1

4.15

0

3

3

17.1

10.9

3.1

5.7

2002 St.Louis

1

5

6.94

0

11

10

48.0

12.6

4.1

4.1

2003 Clearwater (A)

1

1

1.47

0

4

2

18.1

4.9

2.0

5.9

2003 Reading (AA)

1

1

5.35

0

8

8

37.0

9.7

3.6

5.8

Minor League Totals

41

23

3.05

0

106

103

601.1

8.7

2.8

7.7

Major League Totals

7

8

4.98

0

27

27

132.0

9.9

3.1

5.5


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