Smith Is Deceiving

STATEN ISLAND, NY - Following a shaky junior year on the hill at Sam Houston State University, left-handed pitcher Caleb Smith has turned things around in his first professional season with the Staten Island Yankees with a combination of stuff, command, and some real deception on the mound.

Smith, who attended college in his hometown of Huntsville, Texas, signed shortly after being drafted by the Yankees in the 14th-round of this year's Player Draft. A starting pitcher by trade, Smith has split his time in the New York-Penn League between starting relieving. His approach on the mound remains the same regardless of the inning.

"My style is to go right after [the batters] -- here it is. If you can hit it, hit it," Smith said.

The 21-year-old challenges hitters with a two-seam fastball, a slider and a circle-changeup. While the circle change is "a swing and miss changeup," which Smith equates to that of Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, his strongest pitch is his fastball.

"[Hiding the ball] is something I've always done," he said. "In college, everybody told me that I [do it] well. I've gotten up to 95 mph, but I'm usually at 90-93. I only throw a two-seam so it runs a lot, making it that much tougher."

Though the fastball mostly settles in the low-90s, the two-seam grip enables the ball to move late on hitters, deceiving them as it crosses the plate. Smith's ability to hide the ball in his delivery makes it difficult for batters to pick up on any of his pitches, but when he elects to throw the two-seamer, the late movement causes the pitch to appear faster than it truly is.

While his command and consistency were less than stellar in Texas, Smith has improved both facets in Staten Island. Through 22.2 innings, he has posted a 1-1 record with a 2.43 ERA, striking out 35 batters while walking eight. Starting in four of the eight games in which he pitched, Smith has held hitters to a .220 batting average, registering a WHIP ratio of 1.08.

"I've always been a starter," he said. "I wouldn't mind coming out of the pen if I had to, but I'm more comfortable at the start of the game.

"I feel like the deeper I go into a game, I get stronger," he continued. "[I] learn the hitters, and my velocity on the fastball has always gone up in games, which is weird."

Staten Island pitching coach, Carlos Chantres, believes that Smith has had a strong season thus far, but added that he needs to do more to challenge left-handed hitters.

"I think he's been doing pretty good," Chantres said. "His numbers are pretty good, he throws strikes and has got a real good changeup. [His] slider is okay but it's going to get better. His velocity gets up there at 93-94, which is good for a lefty.

"For me, he's got to make sure he gets lefty [batters] out. He looks to me as a starter right now. If he's able to command his fastball with that good change and have a quality slider, he can turn out to be something."

Focusing foremost, controlling his pitches has allowed the 6-foot-2, 197-pound pitcher to better contain hitters.

"In college it was pretty bad -- I had quite a few walks," Smith said. "But since I've gotten here, I've started to get it back.

"I'm looking to improve everything I can. It's always nice to throw hard but you got to hit your spots at the same time."

Being a tall lefty with a sharp fastball and secondary pitches that register in the low 80s will attract any major league organization, but Smith admitted that he needs to work on some mechanics in his delivery.

"I tend to fly open on my front side and that causes the ball to stay elevated in the zone, so I'm trying to keep my front side closed and work down," he said.

Though Smith has performed slightly better as a reliever, Chantres feels that as long as he commands hitters by controlling his pitches, Smith will continue to flourish in the Yankee organization.

"If you can throw strikes, especially as a lefty, you're going to be moving up pretty quickly, whether you're a starter or reliever," Chantres concluded.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nSmith, who attended college in his hometown of Huntsville, Texas, signed shortly after being drafted by the Yankees in the 14th-round of this year's Player Draft. A starting pitcher by trade, Smith has split his time in the New York-Penn League between starting relieving. His approach on the mound remains the same regardless of the inning.
\r\n
\r\n\"My style is to go right after [the batters] -- here it is. If you can hit it, hit it,\" Smith said.
\r\n
\r\nThe 21-year-old challenges hitters with a two-seam fastball, a slider and a circle-changeup. While the circle change is \"a swing and miss changeup,\" which Smith equates to that of Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, his strongest pitch is his fastball.
\r\n
\r\n\"[Hiding the ball] is something I've always done,\" he said. \"In college, everybody told me that I [do it] well. I've gotten up to 95 mph, but I'm usually at 90-93. I only throw a two-seam so it runs a lot, making it that much tougher.\"
\r\n
\r\nThough the fastball mostly settles in the low-90s, the two-seam grip enables the ball to move late on hitters, deceiving them as it crosses the plate. Smith's ability to hide the ball in his delivery makes it difficult for batters to pick up on any of his pitches, but when he elects to throw the two-seamer, the late movement causes the pitch to appear faster than it truly is.
\r\n
\r\nWhile his command and consistency were less than stellar in Texas, Smith has improved both facets in Staten Island. Through 22.2 innings, he has posted a 1-1 record with a 2.43 ERA, striking out 35 batters while walking eight. Starting in four of the eight games in which he pitched, Smith has held hitters to a .220 batting average, registering a WHIP ratio of 1.08.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've always been a starter,\" he said. \"I wouldn't mind coming out of the pen if I had to, but I'm more comfortable at the start of the game.
\r\n
\r\n\"I feel like the deeper I go into a game, I get stronger,\" he continued. \"[I] learn the hitters, and my velocity on the fastball has always gone up in games, which is weird.\"
\r\n
\r\nStaten Island pitching coach, Carlos Chantres, believes that Smith has had a strong season thus far, but added that he needs to do more to challenge left-handed hitters.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think he's been doing pretty good,\" Chantres said. \"His numbers are pretty good, he throws strikes and has got a real good changeup. [His] slider is okay but it's going to get better. His velocity gets up there at 93-94, which is good for a lefty.
\r\n
\r\n\"For me, he's got to make sure he gets lefty [batters] out. He looks to me as a starter right now. If he's able to command his fastball with that good change and have a quality slider, he can turn out to be something.\"
\r\n
\r\nFocusing foremost, controlling his pitches has allowed the 6-foot-2, 197-pound pitcher to better contain hitters.
\r\n
\r\n\"In college it was pretty bad -- I had quite a few walks,\" Smith said. \"But since I've gotten here, I've started to get it back.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm looking to improve everything I can. It's always nice to throw hard but you got to hit your spots at the same time.\"
\r\n
\r\nBeing a tall lefty with a sharp fastball and secondary pitches that register in the low 80s will attract any major league organization, but Smith admitted that he needs to work on some mechanics in his delivery.
\r\n
\r\n\"I tend to fly open on my front side and that causes the ball to stay elevated in the zone, so I'm trying to keep my front side closed and work down,\" he said.
\r\n
\r\nThough Smith has performed slightly better as a reliever, Chantres feels that as long as he commands hitters by controlling his pitches, Smith will continue to flourish in the Yankee organization.
\r\n
\r\n\"If you can throw strikes, especially as a lefty, you're going to be moving up pretty quickly, whether you're a starter or reliever,\" Chantres concluded.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

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