What a lift the Yankees pitching draftees have already given the farm this season but it could actually pale in comparison to what Brett Smith could bring to the table. Even though he will, in all likelihood, see no game action this season, Brett Smith will be a large factor in 2005. Why is Brett Smith so important? The reason is because he brings the polish along with great talent of a highly touted college pitcher that the Yankee farm system has lacked for quite some time.
It is actually odd enough that Brett Smith was there for the taking in the 2nd round for the Yankees this season after an illustrious college career. He was taken 42nd overall out of UC Irvine. While he is not quite Mark Prior, no one really is, Smith could end up being a tremendous Major League pitcher in only a couple years down the road. His success and style could very well rival that of Mike Mussina's. There is no doubt that he has the perfect body type for a pitcher and there was almost no college hitters that weren't afraid to face him. In fact, two Cal State Fullerton players, Kurt Suzuki and PJ Pilittere, said he was one of three toughest pitchers that they had ever faced. That is not too bad considering they were two key components in the Titan's national championship run. When asked on his college website, what he would throw in a big situation and how he would handle it, Smith even showed a great swagger and confidence to his style. "I throw a curveball - (the batter) he freezes, it breaks, I laugh and throw the strike out so hard it's not even funny," says Smith. Well, that scenario occurred quite often for Brett Smith in 2003 and 2004 as he led the Anteater pitching staff.
Brett Smith did not get as much attention as some of the other Yankee draft picks like Phil Hughes and Jon Poterson but the fact in the matter is that he could make an impact in the Major Leagues quicker than any of them. It is easy to say that the Yankees wouldn't mind having another Mike Mussina on their staff in a few short years. Smith actually falls into the old Yankee draft strategy but in the past, they weren't able get a college pitcher that was this polished possibly. But it would have been difficult to pass him by. It will be exciting for the organization to watch him next season. In less than a year, he could well become one of the crown jewels of the Yankee farm system.
Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Slider, Changeup
Fastball. Smith's fastball is a very good one and he has learned to trust it at any time in a count or in the game. Has excellent command of it. He has touched 96 MPH on the radar gun on many occasions but he averages between 92-94 MPH. Smith has excellent movement on his fastball. He shows his college polish with the way he can move his fastball in and out and up and down. He can use it to blow it by a batter in the right count. Because of this pitch, he can be considered a power pitcher.
Other Pitches. Besides his good fastball, Brett Smith has a lot of other pitches to keep the hitters guessing at all times. This is where the Mike Mussina comparisons begin. Smith has an advanced changeup for a young pitcher and he uses it to compliment his heater. The tall righty also has a tight breaking slider that dives away from right handed hitters. Despite those two nice pitches in his repertoire, his curveball is what sets him apart from the pack. His hook is highly advanced and it should allow him to overmatch hitters in the minor leagues and as it gets even better, major league hitters as well.
Pitching. The name Mike Mussina sums up much of the pitching style of Brett Smith. He even has that very same hitch in his motion that Mussina has. Smith is dangerous because of the fact that he has a deep repertoire but also because of the fact that all his pitches are at least solid. Most important of all, he throws strikes on a consistent basis and goes after the hitters. He trusts his stuff and why shouldn't he with what he has. His mechanics are good and he uses his lower body and his big frame well.
Projection. It is always difficult to project a player that has never played a professional game but with Brett Smith, it is not as difficult as it usually is. Smith is the prime example of college polish and he could turn out to be a front end of the rotation starting pitcher in a short time. He has the skills and the mental makeup to do it quite easily.
Comparison. Mike Mussina
ETA. Late 2006. Considering his well polished pitching skills coming out of a prestigious college, it is easy to think that Brett Smith could be in the Major Leagues fairly quickly. He got a late start this season because he signed at the very end of the season but he might take the Steven White route next season. In all likelihood, Smith will start in Battle Creek and if he performs as expected, he should move to Tampa by mid season. Then in 2006, he could jump to AAA or he may start his season in AA. However, it is all very possible that he could get a September call up.