Scouting the Draft: Seventh Rounder Kevin Smith, LHP

By Ari Berkowitz

July 17, 2018 No comments

Kevin Smith/Photo by David Barnes

Round 7, Pick 200 — Kevin Smith, LHP

Ht: 6’5″     Wt: 200 lb     Age: 5/13/97 (21)

School: University of Georgia

Statistics

  • 2016 (Freshman) 5-1, 3.91 ERA, 13 G, 7 GS, 46.0 IP, 1.391 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, 7.8 K/9
  • 2017 (Sophomore) 5-5, 4.87 ERA, 20 G, 12 GS, 61.0 IP, 1.607 WHIP, 4.6 BB/9, 9.9 K/9
  • 2018 (Junior) 8-1, 3.70 ERA, 22 G, 7 GS, 63.1 IP, 1.263 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, 11.2 K/9

Background 

Currently holding his own in Brooklyn, this lanky lefty is quite the enigma.  First off, there is a dearth of information on this guy. If I was inclined to copy/paste all the info on him straight from the internet, I’d be hard pressed to reach 1000 words. What we know is that at Georgia, Smith transitioned into a full-time relief role toward the end of the this season and was absolutely filthy.  It will be interesting to see if the Mets develop him as a starter or reliever, both in the short and long-term. So far, he done both.

Scouting

Utilizing a short stride and a low 3/4’s delivery, Smith should have no problem getting through the lower rungs of the minor leagues on deception alone.  As Joe Cavallaro has demonstrated, a unique arm angle and a true ability at hiding the ball is more than enough to keep A ball hitters at bay.

Smith throws both a fastball, slider and changeup. His fastball has been mostly 89-92 while maxing at 94 mph.  Smith has an arm “hitch”, in which he swings his throwing arm behind his back leg before turning his arm over and only then releasing the ball.  This will lead to an inconsistent release point, shaky command, erratic velocity and potential injuries.

His slider is effective to both left and right handed hitters which is mainly attributable to its two-plane movement.  He often buries the pitch inside to right handed hitters, in baseball jargon this is called “the backfoot slider”.

Development

Mechanically speaking, Callaway and Eiland worked to eliminate Wheeler’s arm “hitch” before the season and this has buoyed both his command and velocity.  Hopefully Smith can make a similar adjustment.  Even if the end game is having Smith as a relief option, starting his career in any capacity in which he can throw 100+ innings.  This would give him time to work on the aforementioned mechanical adjustments as well as possibly extending his stride.  The benefit of which will be more consistency and probably more velocity, but the downside might be losing some of the bite on his slider.  Additionally, Smith would benefit from adding a cutter and a sinker.  Due to his low 3/4’s armslot, both pitches should work well off his current repertoire and should keep all hitters guessing.

In summation, Smith is probably not far from being a LOOGY and because of that is almost guaranteed to spend time in the Major Leagues, as long as he sticks around long enough.  That being said, he has a lot of work to do in almost every aspect of his game and is raw for a college pitcher. He is still 21, so there is no need to rush his development and if he makes strides he could become an intriguing prospect.