Braves lefthander Dan Smith jumped on the radar last season when he went 3-6, 3.13 with 86 strikeouts in 60 innings at Double-A Mississippi.
Signed as a nondrafted free agent out of Cypress Lake (Fla.) High in 2003, Smith was used almost exclusively as a reliever over his first four seasons in the system.
Now that he’s been thrust into a full-time role in the rotation for the M-Braves, Smith is still holding his own.
The 23-year-old lefty allowed a run on four hits and struck out six over six innings in Mississippi’s 4-1 win against Birmingham. And he’s now 3-1, 1.64 with a 23-4 strikeout-walk ratio.
But there are signs Smith might not be the complete pitcher he appears to be.
“There is no real breaking ball,” said a National League scout. “He’s a fastball command guy with a pretty good changeup. The changeup is probably a 55 (on the 20-80 scouting scale) and he’ll get by at this level with those two pitches.
“There is no breaking ball for me. You can say ‘slurvy’ breaking ball; I guess you could call it that. But it doesn’t do much, doesn’t have much movement. Every once in a while he’ll cut a fastball that looks like a breaking ball and it’s fooling guys, but there isn’t a true breaking ball in his repertoire. You could see him having success out of the pen, but this guy is surviving at this level right now with a fastball/change/cutter mix. That says reliever to me.”
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