Smith Making Tweaks

Left-hander Caleb Smith surprised many folks with a dominating season in his debut season this year with the Staten Island Yankees. He posted a 1.89 ERA and struck out better than a batter per inning pitched, and even earned a late season promotion to Double-A Trenton. As good as he was, however, he has begun tweaking his game in very positive ways lately.

This year's 14th round pick out of Sam Houston State University held opposing batters to a paltry .197 batting average and dramatically cut down his walk ratio, dropping it from six-plus batters per nine innings this season in college to below three batters per nine innings at the professional level.

"I think it went pretty well," Smith said of his debut season. "I thought for the most part that I threw the ball pretty well. I just need to work on command a little bit but other than that I thought it went pretty well."

Excited about throwing more strikes after being drafted, he still wants even better command than he had shown in Staten Island this year.

"Everything, fastball mainly though. It's a little bit [mechanical]. We started working on mechanics at Instructs, my direction, and that helped out a lot. I'm getting there but I'm not where I want to be by any means."

Pleased with his ability to throw first-pitch strikes and get ahead in counts more frequently, he isn't surprised by the success he has had thus far and that's mostly due to his above average fastball-changeup combination.

He admits though that he had a problem getting lefties out in college and further improving his slider was a big developmental mantra in Staten Island this year and once again at Instructs this offseason.

"They wouldn't let me throw my changeup and I could only throw my fastball [and] slider, and my slider got a lot better," he said of Instructs. "At the beginning it was a little frustrating taking my changeup away.

"In my first outing I got hit around a little bit. I was a little wild and it was just frustrating not being able to throw my changeup because I knew if I had been able to throw that things would have been a lot different in my first outing. But my slider came around and now it's looking pretty good."

Mechanically they got him to stay closed more with his plant foot and keep it in line with home plate, and that helped him with his command. It also helped tweak his slider too, not just with the command but with the velocity and the break as well.

"It's changed in all three aspects," he said. "The velocity increased -- when I first started out in Staten Island it was a little slow, like 79-82 mph and a little loopy at times. And every now and then I would throw one that was really sharp with a good break.

"I mainly worked on that at Instructs and pretty much every one I throw now the velocity is up and it has really tight break to it, really late and quick break."

With the utmost confidence in his low-90s sinking two-seam fastball and a changeup that has been much more effective against wooden bats, now that he has tweaked his mechanics and improved his slider he feels he could be in line for even bigger and better things in his first full season next year.

"I'm really excited about it. I feel like I'm going to do really well. I'm going to do a lot better with the things they changed in my mechanics and my slider. I think it's going to be a really good season. I'm interested to see what happens," he concluded.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nThis year's 14th round pick out of Sam Houston State University held opposing batters to a paltry .197 batting average and dramatically cut down his walk ratio, dropping it from six-plus batters per nine innings this season in college to below three batters per nine innings at the professional level.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think it went pretty well,\" Smith said of his debut season. \"I thought for the most part that I threw the ball pretty well. I just need to work on command a little bit but other than that I thought it went pretty well.\"
\r\n
\r\nExcited about throwing more strikes after being drafted, he still wants even better command than he had shown in Staten Island this year.
\r\n
\r\n\"Everything, fastball mainly though. It's a little bit [mechanical]. We started working on mechanics at Instructs, my direction, and that helped out a lot. I'm getting there but I'm not where I want to be by any means.\"
\r\n
\r\nPleased with his ability to throw first-pitch strikes and get ahead in counts more frequently, he isn't surprised by the success he has had thus far and that's mostly due to his above average fastball-changeup combination.
\r\n
\r\nHe admits though that he had a problem getting lefties out in college and further improving his slider was a big developmental mantra in Staten Island this year and once again at Instructs this offseason.
\r\n
\r\n\"They wouldn't let me throw my changeup and I could only throw my fastball [and] slider, and my slider got a lot better,\" he said of Instructs. \"At the beginning it was a little frustrating taking my changeup away.
\r\n
\r\n\"In my first outing I got hit around a little bit. I was a little wild and it was just frustrating not being able to throw my changeup because I knew if I had been able to throw that things would have been a lot different in my first outing. But my slider came around and now it's looking pretty good.\"
\r\n
\r\nMechanically they got him to stay closed more with his plant foot and keep it in line with home plate, and that helped him with his command. It also helped tweak his slider too, not just with the command but with the velocity and the break as well.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's changed in all three aspects,\" he said. \"The velocity increased -- when I first started out in Staten Island it was a little slow, like 79-82 mph and a little loopy at times. And every now and then I would throw one that was really sharp with a good break.
\r\n
\r\n\"I mainly worked on that at Instructs and pretty much every one I throw now the velocity is up and it has really tight break to it, really late and quick break.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith the utmost confidence in his low-90s sinking two-seam fastball and a changeup that has been much more effective against wooden bats, now that he has tweaked his mechanics and improved his slider he feels he could be in line for even bigger and better things in his first full season next year.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm really excited about it. I feel like I'm going to do really well. I'm going to do a lot better with the things they changed in my mechanics and my slider. I think it's going to be a really good season. I'm interested to see what happens,\" he concluded.
\r\n
\r\n

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

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\r\n

\r\n

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