Name: Caleb Smith
DOB: July 28, 1991
Repertoire. Fastball, Changeup, Slider, Curveball.
Fastball. Smith's fastball mostly will sit in the 91-94 mph range and even will range down to 90-92 mph consistently in the early innings of his starts but it absolutely plays to a plus a level given the late-life explosion and incredible downward movement his two-seamer generates. Batters have an incredibly difficult time barreling the fastball and often times are merely able to pound it into the dirt. His fastball, which can hit as high as 96 mph, is a double-edged sword, however, as he has a difficult time controlling it consistently because it moves so much and he not only can work behind in counts often as a result but pile up walks in a hurry as well. While that can be problematic he is able to limit the damage by his innate ability to keep the ball low extremely consistently [he's given up just 14 home runs in 304 career innings] and induce a lot of double-play balls. Bottom line; the fastballs acts like a plus pitch but his lackluster command can ding its effectiveness.
Other Pitches. Aiding Smith's fastball is his plus changeup, another wild-moving pitch with a ton of fade and depth. It a truly ironic twist, however, as much as his changeup moves he can spot it wherever he wants it, unlike his fastball. It is a big-time strikeout weapon against both left-handed batters and righties. Smith also boasts two breaking pitches that grade out as big league average or better overall -- mostly due to the inconsistent command -- but generate plus movement. His slider is his main breaking pitch of choice and it it ranges from 81-86 mph with a lot of late lateral break. His curveball is newer to him but it too drops down in the zone with the best of them and sits in the 78-80 mph range. All three secondary pitches are both contact out-pitches and strikeout weapons.
Pitching. Smith is very unique in that he's a left-hander with four big league strikeout pitches whose entire game is predicated on movement, deception, power and a quick tempo. His rather high walk totals are not a byproduct of his approach either, which is actually very much bulldog in style. He is on the mound to attack batters with his array of quality pitches but simply doesn't have the ability to be a high-command guy given the movement on his pitches. While he has walked far too many batters thus far, a weakness even he himself would admit to, it's not like there is a ton of room for improvement in that regard either simply because of how much his pitches move; he can only control that movement so much. When he gets into a rhythm though he can throw a lot of strikes in bunches and be very untouchable, and he induces a lot of ground ball outs. He is extremely athletic, he shows real stamina and can maintain his power deep into games, and has proven to be very durable during his career thus far. For him it's all about throwing more strikes in the zone as best he can.
Projection. If not for the shaky command due to the movement on his pitches Smith would absolutely project best as an eventual middle to back-end big league starting pitcher given his deep arsenal, stamina, strength, and endurance, and his effectiveness against both lefties and righties. He has proven for rather long stretches during his minor league career too that he can pitch even higher than that projection; he can be flat-out dominant [he pitched to a 2.18 ERA in his last six Double-A games and posted a 2.54 ERA after the All Star break overall last year] at times. Stuff-wise he has the ceiling of a front-half big league starting pitcher but his lackluster command will most likely downgrade that a peg or two and throwing more consistent early count strikes is needed for him to fulfill that even kind of potential. He has left-handed big league setup man stuff as a floor for sure but provides a ton more value in a starting capacity if and when the gap between the stuff and command begins to shorten.
ETA. 2016. Smith ended the season with a call-up to Triple-A Scranton and that's where he is headed to begin the 2016 season. From there he will be just a phone call away from the big leagues and stuff-wise he is ready.