The Indians are fortifying their MLB-best bullpen with a familiar face.
The Indians acquired veteran righthander Joe Smith on Monday in exchange for minor league lefthander Thomas Pannone and infielder Samad Taylor.
Smith rejoins to the organization he spent 2009-13 with and provides another proven option out of the Indians' bullpen, which entered the day with a major-league best 2.78 ERA.
Pannone jumped on the national prospect radar this year when he opened the season with 33.1 consecutive scoreless innings at high Class A Lynchburg and Double-A Akron He’s continued to dominate throughout the year and has the ninth-lowest WHIP (0.955) and 10th-lowest ERA (1.96) in the minor leagues. Though his stuff isn’t eye-popping, Pannone has been successful at every level. He previously sat 86-88 mph but saw his velocity jump this season. He now sits comfortably 90-91 mph and uses a mid-70s slurvy breaking balls as his main secondary. Where Pannone excels is he works quickly, fills up the zone in all quadrants, and mixes and matches to keep hitters off-balance. He misses bats at a rate higher than his raw stuff would suggest (9.5 K/9 in his career), and has a chance to rise as a back-end starter.
Taylor was a well-known amateur as a member of the various USA National Teams and an Area Codes Game standout. The Indians drafted him in the 10th round in 2016. Taylor is small at 5-10, 160 pounds but is quick and athletic. He takes smart at-bats and makes solid line-drive contact and is beginning to show burgeoning power. Defensively he has the reflexes and quick-twitch attributes to handle both middle infield positions, but his actions and arm are better suited for second base. Taylor is still learning to channel his plus speed into stolen bases, but has a solid foundation to work from.
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The Dayton, Ohio, native was a fan favorite in Cleveland for five seasons and has remained an effective reliever in the interim. Smith has posted a sub-3.50 ERA in six of the past seven years and is averaging a career-best 12.9 K/9 this season. He missed a month with right shoulder soreness but was activated July 21 and has pitched without issue.