- Full name Burch Taylor Smith
- Born 04/12/1990 in San Antonio, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'4" / Wt.: 225 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Oklahoma
- Debut 05/11/2013
Drafted in the 14th round (443rd overall) by the San Diego Padres in 2011 (signed for $250,000).
View Draft ReportThe Indians selected Smith in each of the last two drafts, taking him in the 49th round in 2009 and in the 20th round a year ago. He'll go much higher this year after transferring from Howard (Texas) JC to Oklahoma, though he could have gone in the top three rounds in 2010 had he been more signable. Smith didn't pitch much until he was a high school senior, then served as the No. 4 starter on Howard's 2009 national championship team that went 65-1. Smith still isn't the most polished pitcher, but he throws 90-93 mph and reaches 95 with ease. He may find more velocity once he adds strength to his 6-foot-3, 192-pound frame. He's doing a better job of throwing strikes this year, though his control needs more work, as does the rest of his arsenal. He throws two breaking balls, with his slider ranking ahead of his curveball, and has exhibited some feel for his changeup. If Smith continues to develop, he could become a No. 3 starter with a quality fastball and solid control and secondary pitches.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Smith made it to the big leagues with the Padres in 2013 in just his second full season after being drafted from Oklahoma in 2011 and signing for $250,000. Persistent injuries and eventually Tommy John surgery kept him out of action for much of the next three years. During his time on the sidelines Smith was included in a late 2014 three-team deal to the Rays and didn't get back on the mound with Tampa Bay until 2017, when he pitched at three minor league levels. He wrapped up the year with a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League before the Royals picked him up in the 2017 Rule 5 draft, purchasing his rights from the Mets, who took him sixth overall. Smith has a starter's frame with a sturdy body and strong lower half, and he shows advanced command of all of his pitches and changes speeds well. His fastball sits 94-97 mph with some run and natural cut, and he complements his heater with an 11-to-5 curveball with two-plane depth that comes in at 74-76 mph. His best secondary pitch is a plus, swing-and-miss 79-81 mph changeup that has good tumble. Smith could fill the role of back-end starter or seventh-inning reliever, with a move to the bullpen the more likely role because of his injury history.
The Padres rushed Smith to the big leagues after just six starts at Double-A San Antonio in 2013, but his development stalled in 2014 when he made two April starts, then missed the rest of the year with a forearm injury. He lacked the same zip on his pitches he had shown in 2013, when he regularly sat in the mid-90s. Smith still sits at 92 mph and can reach 95 with armside life, though now his below-average curveball looks even loopier, and he focuses more on throwing a sinker and changeup to complement his heat. Smith's physical 6-foot-4 frame and history of throwing strikes will keep him in the rotation--likely at Triple-A--for now, but his stuff probably would play up in a relief role.
Smith led the high Class A California League with 5.1 SO/BB ratio in 2012 and continued in that vein with a 4.4 ratio at Double-A and Triple-A in 2013. Called on as an emergency starter after just six starts at Double-A San Antonio, Smith received three different callups to San Diego in 2013. His physicality, clean arm action, up-tempo delivery and above-average fastball stand out immediately. He sits 92-93 mph and can run his fastball up to about 97, often with natural cutting action. Getting bushwhacked by big league hitters taught him that he'll need more than his fastball to succeed. Smith threw his changeup about one in five pitches for San Diego and it's his go-to secondary weapon, which he sells with good arm speed. Finding conviction in his curveball has been more of a challenge, though the Padres say it should be an average pitch once he uses it with more power and learns to better sync his delivery when throwing it. Smith seemed to get his feet under him in September, going 1-2, 3.80 with 31 strikeouts in 24 innings over four starts. He might be ready to claim a permanent rotation spot in spring training and has mid-rotation potential.
The Indians tried twice to sign Smith, drafting him out of Howard (Texas) JC in both 2009 (49th round) and 2010 (20th), but they didn't get him either time. The Padres had more luck, signing him for $250,000 as a 14th-round selection out of Oklahoma in 2011. Like Matt Andriese, Smith had no trouble jumping to high Class A his first year out, and the two teamed with Donn Roach to front a Lake Elsinore pitching staff that led the California League with a 4.31 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Smith throws the hardest of the three, giving him a higher ceiling, but he doesn't have a go-to second pitch like Andriese's curve or Roach's splitter. He tops out near 97 mph and generates fierce cutting action on his fastball, which usually ranges from 90-95. San Diego projects his changeup to be solid, assuming he develops more consistent arm speed, but he hasn't refined or settled on a consistent breaking ball yet. His curveball needs more power and his slider more tilt. Smith has no trouble throwing strikes--his 5.1 K-BB ratio topped the Cal League--but he'll need one of his secondary pitches to step forward to continue thriving as a starter at Double-A in 2013.