Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Smyly was the Tigers second round pick last week as a draft-eligible sophomore out of the University of Arkansas. Though overshadowed by higher rated prospect such as Zach Cox and Brett Eibner, Smyly was a key force for the nationally ranked Razorbacks this spring.
After red-shirting during his freshman season on campus in 2008, Smyly was a regular starter in 2009, including earning the victory in the game that propelled the Razorbacks to the College World Series. In that pressure-packed start, Smyly had a no-hitter going through 8 1/3 innings, and finished the game with an impressive 12 strikeouts.
With Arkansas' season coming to a close in Super Regional play this weekend, Smyly finished his season with a 9-1 record and 2.80 ERA in 14 starts (18 total appearances). He fired two shutouts en route to his 103 innings, allowing just 85 hits and 36 walks, while striking out 114 batters.
Despite three years of college, Smyly remains a lanky left-hander with a projectable body. He works with a good downward plan on all of his pitches, and he successfully keeps his entire arsenal low in the zone.
His fastball can range from the upper-90s, all the way up to 93 at times. He consistently works at 89-91 with above-average command, and he changes the speed on his fastball astutely. The combination of command and the ability to get into the low-90s with regularity, leaves most scouts giving Smyly's fastball a grade 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Behind the fastball, Smyly relies heavily on a good cutter (some scouts call it a slider) that works in the low-80s with good single-plane movement. He can work the cutter to both sides of the plate, and it is an effective weapon against both righties and lefties. He also throws a curveball and change-up that both show as average pitches most of the time, though some see more promise for the curveball going forward.
Smyly is an intelligent pitcher with the ability to mix pitches, change speeds, and throw to both sides of the plate with all of his pitches. He is capable of developing a solid game plan and sticking to it, and he can adjust on the fly during his starts.
Scouts love his makeup on the mound, as he rarely shows emotion, either positive or negative, keeping himself in check at all times. He is a good athlete and he gets off the mound to field his position well.
Though some scouts can see a number three starter down the line, most talent evaluators peg him as a strong candidate to be a back of the rotation starter or quality reliever.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG COL
Smyly has had some injury issues in the past, and he should be watched closely early in his pro career. He struggled with back problems during his final high school campaign, and then was forced from his freshman season at Arkansas due to a stress fracture in his left (throwing) elbow. He's been largely healthy the last two years, save for some minor blister trouble this spring, so that is a positive sign working in his favor.
Smyly has extra leverage this summer, having been plucked as a draft-eligible sophomore, and having two more years of eligibility remaining. It is tough to envision him not signing at this point though, considering there is little chance a return to campus would net him a significantly better draft location.
Once signed, Smyly should be able to be pushed aggressively early on, with the potential to handle an A-ball assignment right out of the gates this summer. He could move quickly enough to be in Lakeland for the entirety of the 2011 season, and from there his performance will dictate his timetable to the big leagues.
If Ruffin continues to demonstrate his current levels of durability, he could be more valuable as a 7th or 8th inning reliever that can throw multiple innings or throw on back-to-back nights, rather than being confined to a one-inning closer's role.