Name: Alexander Smit
DOB: October 2, 1985
Alexander Smit was another gem that International scout Howard Norsetter found on a different continent. Since his arrival in 2003, Smit has a had relative success in each level he has played at, with the exception of Low-A Beloit during the 2005 season. He has played on the Dutch National Team at the Athens Olympics, and while he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for Elizabethton in 2005, he works just as well from the rotation.
The 2003 season was his first season of professional baseball, and the left-hander was a member of the Gulf Coast League Twins. Pitching as mostly a starter, Smit put up staggering numbers that season. In eight games, making seven starts, he finished with a 1.18 earned run average, and struck out 40 batters in 38 innings of work.
The 2004 season would bring a promotion to short season Elizabethton, where he again was used mostly as a starting pitcher. For E-Town, Smit posted a 2.54 ERA in his six appearances, and continued to show fantastic strikeout numbers. In only 28 innings of work, Smit struck out 43 batters, and walked only ten.
The 2005 season brought the first taste of failure to Smit's mouth, but he quickly rebounded after a move to the bullpen. Beginning the year with full-season Beloit, Smit was pasted to the tune of a 1-9 record, to go along with a 5.98 ERA. Those gaudy numbers prompted the Twins to send him back to the Appalachian League, where he would go on to be an Apply League All-Star.
For E-Town, Smit was their big arm in the bullpen, teaming with Tim Lahey to form one of the best bullpens in the Apply League. In 21 appearances, Smit posted a 1.97 ERA, but it was his strikeout totals that were eye-popping. In 46 innings of work, Smit struck out 86 batters, a number that equals to almost 2 per inning.
In 2006, Smit cementing his spot as one of the better pitching prospects in the Twins organization. It was a very successful year for the young left-hander, and would end with him being placed on the Twins 40-man roster. A Midwest League All-Star in 2006, Smit got revenge on a league that hit him hard in 2005.
The young lefty appeared in 34 games for the Snappers in 2006, making 13 starts, while compiling 108 innings of work. He struck out 141 batters, walking 53, and held the opposition to a tiny .199 batting average. He also won a career-high seven games, and pushed his career strikeout total to 364 whiffs in only 270 career innings.
Smit will be in Fort Myers to start the 2007 season, but could definitely be in New Britain before the year is done.
Repertoire: Fastball, Knuckle-Curveball
Fastball. Smit's fastball is not overpowering, so it is amazing that he could put up such gaudy strikeout numbers with his three-pitch repertoire. His fastball tops out in the 91-93 miles per hour range, although it was only topping in the mid-80's during his time in Beloit. The switch to the bullpen seemed to revive his arm, as it was allowed to rest once in a while. Still, he has tremendous control of his heater, and at 6'4'', can appear dominating on the mound.
Other Pitches. Smit went back to his knuckle-curveball in 2006, and the results were astounding. He has good control of his knuclecurve, and he uses it well with his fastball. His changeup does not work, and he really did not even use it during the 2006 season. He needs to work on the changeup in order to continue to be a starting pitcher, but he has enough control over his knucklecurve and fastball to be a dominant fixture in any bullpen.
Pitching. The good thing about Smit is that he is reliable in any situation you throw him in. He can be a starter, a middle relief guy, a set-up man, and even a closer on a ballclub. He also has tremendous feel for pitching, as he is getting better and better at being able to set up hitters. He showed an ability to eat innings once again in 2006, and dominated from both the rotation, and the bullpen. He is a definite upgrade to any pitching staff.
Projection. Some believe that Smit is more suited to be a starting pitcher, rather than a bullpen guy, but I completely disagree. After seeing him pitch in 2005, I think he is the kind of pitcher that could give people fits when they see him trotting out of the bullpen. I was not able to see him start a game, and I should see that before I make an assumption, but I loved what I saw when he came out of the bullpen. With his two-pitch arsenal, he is more suited to be a reliever, and brings more to a team as a reliever.
ETA. 2008. Smit has turned himself into quite the pitching prospect over the past year and a half, and continues to baffle Minor League hitters. He has recently been placed on the Twins 40-man roster, and the team definitely has plans for the young lefty. He should end the 2007 with New Britain, and could be in Minnesota's bullpen by 2008. He is still young, and if he can develop a third pitch to go along with his fastball, and his knucklecurve, then he will dominate even more. His development has been fun to watch, and we think he can even get better.