Caleb Smith Eyes Rotation Spot In Miami

Caleb Smith’s intuition proved correct.

Smith, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound lefthander who made his big league debut last July with the Yankees, said he sensed a trade was coming before it ever happened.

On Nov. 20, the Yankees traded Smith and first baseman Garrett Cooper to the Marlins for righthander Michael King and $250,000 of international bonus pool money. A desire to clear space on the 40-man roster motivated New York to make the trade.

The 26-year-old Smith has worked mostly as a starter in five pro seasons. He pitched successfully at Triple-A in 2017 but ran up a 7.71 ERA in nine games—including two starts—for the Yankees.

A few weeks after the World Series ended, he was gone.

“I kind of expected to get traded—I just had a feeling,” Smith said. “I didn’t have that great of a start (in New York). But I’m excited. I feel like Miami is a good opportunity.”

Smith is from Huntsville, Texas, and still lives there. He went to Sam Houston State, his hometown university, and was drafted in the 14th round by the Yankees in 2013.

“Those three draft days were pretty hectic,” Smith said. “I was told I would get drafted in the top 10 rounds. I fell to 14th. I was getting nervous, but it all worked out.”

Smith went 9-1, 2.41 in 18 games last season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He struck out 8.9 and walked 2.6 per nine innings in his 98 frames.

Smith said it was a pleasure to play for the Yankees.

“They have an unbelievable program,” Smith said. “They know how to build players up, and they have a great coaching staff.”

Smith uses three pitches, including a fastball that sits 92-94 mph and tops out at 97. His changeup is his best secondary pitch at 83-86 mph, while his low-80s slider is still a work in progress.

The Marlins, with three open rotation spots after Jose Urena and Dan Straily, are hoping Smith’s stuff plays at the major league level after last year’s rough initiation.

“They told me the rotation is open,” Smith said. “I just have to work for it.”

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