- Full name Joseph Michael Smith
- Born 03/22/1984 in Cincinnati, OH
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 211 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Wright State
- Debut 04/01/2007
Drafted in the 3rd round (94th overall) by the New York Mets in 2006 (signed for $410,000).
View Draft ReportSmith is one of the more improbable success stories in college baseball. He had shoulder surgery as a high school senior in 2002 and couldn't crack the Wright State roster in his first year at college. When he made the team as a walk-on in 2004, he used a high three-quarters arm slot and pitched at 85-87 mph. After Rob Cooper took over as head coach before the 2005 season, new assistant coach Greg Lovelady suggested Smith drop down to a sidearm delivery. That usually adds movement and subtracts velocity, but Smith's fastball now sits at 88-91 mph and reaches 94. He also throws a nasty slider and his changeup has improved this spring as well. Hitters have trouble picking up his pitches, as evidenced by his regular-season 0.75 ERA--which would lead NCAA Division I if he weren't five innings short of qualifying. Smith could move quickly as a pro reliever. Because he's a redshirt junior, he'll become a draft-and-follow if he doesn't sign this summer.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Mets drafted Smith with every intention of moving him quickly through the farm system, and that part worked as planned. He had just 27 pro appearances before making his big league debut on Opening Day 2007, and he quickly established himself as one of New York's most reliable relievers. He didn't give up a run in his first 17 appearances, and when he did give up runs, it was due in part to the fact he hadn't worked in a week. Smith succeeded with a sidearm delivery that pumped fastballs up to 94 mph into the lower half of the strike zone, mostly sitting at 88-91 mph with heavy sink. He got 3.8 groundouts for every flyout, a stat that backs up the scouting report on his sinker. His hard low-80s slider helps him make life difficult for righthanders. However, Smith didn't adjust when big league hitters did. He nibbled more and more as the season went on, and as usual with righty sidearmers, lefthanded hitters feasted on him (.858 OPS). Smith was sent down to Triple-A in July after allowing 19 out of 27 inherited runners to score, and while he was more aggressive in his return, he also was more hittable. His changeup and command could both improve, but the same could be said of many young pitchers. More likely, Smith is what he is: a big leaguer, but probably not anything more than a sixth- or seventh-inning matchup reliever.
Smith had shoulder surgery as a senior in high school and couldn't make the Wright State roster as a freshman. After making the team as a walk-on in 2004, he dropped his arm angle from high three-quarters to sidearm a year later and his stuff improved appreciably. His 0.98 ERA would have led NCAA Division I last spring, but he fell five innings short of qualifying. A third-round pick, he signed for $410,000 and reached Double-A in August. Smith is unique because he throws much harder than typical sidearmers, and his 89-91 mph fastball has sinking, fading action. It tops out at 94. He stays on top of an 81-83 mph, two-plane slider that destroys righthanders. They hit just .104 against him in pro ball. The key to Smith reaching his ceiling is his changeup. He never needed it in college, but he does in pro ball to keep advanced lefthanders honest. They went 10-for-20 (.500) against him in his brief Double-A stint. If he can make his changeup an average pitch, Smith should be an excellent setup man. Without it, he'd be just a righthanded specialist. Chad Bradford filled that role for the Mets in 2006, and his departure could allow Smith to make the team at some point in his first full season. He'll probably open in Triple-A.
Minor League Top Prospects
Longoria and Smith advanced further than any NY-P players this summer, finishing the season in Double-A. Smith figures to continue to move quickly due to his low sidearm angle, durable arm and command of above-average stuff. After posting a 1.53 ERA in three years at Wright State, he kept performing against much more significant competition as pro. The only earned run he gave up in the league came in his first outing. Smith's fastball has average velocity, though it can get harder, but the key to the pitch is its sinking, fading action, which makes it effective against lefthanders and produces groundouts. He also has a late-breaking slider that has real bite, causing righthanders hitters to bail out on it. "I liked that when the ball was put in his hands with the game on the line," Brooklyn manager George Greer said. "He had that cold look on his face, like nothing was going to keep him from doing his job."
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Slider in the New York Mets in 2007