Louisville Wins Again

Josh Smith's projections might not put him atop any Cincinnati prospects lists, but his performance at Louisville rates him high among pitching stat lines. He didn't start professionally until he was 22 years old and he's shown solid command while steadily ascending up the Reds organization.

Louisville completed a sweep at Norfolk Friday with a 7-4 win. The Bats got on the board early when Hernan Ibarren tripled and scored on a sac fly in the top of the first. That didn't last for long, but they retook the lead by rallying for three the next inning as Argenis Diaz doubled home a run and scored on a two-RBI single by Jason Bourgeois. Bourgeois drove in two more with a double in the fourth after an RBI single from Mike Costanzo.

On the mound Josh Smith got the win for a quality start in which he allowed three runs on nine hits/two walks across six innings. Pedro Villarreal tossed a scoreless eighth and turned it over to Jumbo Diaz who shut out the Tides in the ninth for his tenth save.

Coming into the season Smith wasn't on any top prospect lists, but don't look now because he's 6-0 with a 2.81 ERA against AAA competition. He punched his ticket to the International League by winning eleven with a 3.26 ernie last year at Pensacola. Actually, high profile or not, he's shown mastery over each level by keeping a sub-four ERA in the California League in 2012 and a sub-three for Dayton in 2011 where he first started pitching in the rotation.

Probably the main factor for preventing more excitement with this prospect is his age because he'll turn 27 before the end of this season. When Cincinnati drafted him in the 21st round in 2010 he was a little late in getting started professionally because he missed a year in college to Tommy John surgery and then hung around at Lipscomb University for a senior season.

He's certainly not a flashy prospect, missing an eye-popping pedigree and a mitt-popping fastball. Instead he relies on finesse and good command with low 90's heater and a polished curve that he feels confident throwing in any count. That's been a recipe for success thus far and though he's no longer fanning over one per inning like he did in the lower levels he's still maintaining a K/BB ratio over two.

Better late than never; Smith has been effective at every level and has nowhere else upward to go except the MLB level. He's currently not on the 40-man roster, but neither was Jeff Francis before his start in the back end of Thursday's double header against the Padres. Cincinnati has already had two pitchers in their expected rotation this season go on the DL and it's only May. The next time they dip down to the farm they might do some more roster finagling for a call to Josh Smith.

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