Kevin Smith was the Mets' 7th-Round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft out of the University of Georgia. Smith split the 2019 season between High-A St Lucie and Double-A Binghamton, where he had a 3.15 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 117 innings pitched.
Smith split time in college between starter and reliever, but the Mets have exclusively been developing him as a starter to date. If he ends up not working out as a starter or there is more of a need in the bullpen, he has the experience and repertoire to work as a lefty out of the bullpen. I talked to Smith recently when I visited Binghamton...
On his upbringing and how he found baseball
"I was born and raised in Dunwoody, Georgia which is about 20 minutes outside of Atlanta. I played all sports growing up but I always had more love for baseball and just developed and grew as a player as I got older."
On if picking The University of Georgia was just a hometown decision
"Not really. I was deciding between three or four schools and I liked the coaching staff at Georgia and I knew that I was going to pitch my freshman year. That was a big thing for me, being able to pitch as a freshman and not have to sit out a year. I just wanted to keep pitching and growing."
On filling multiple roles at Georgia
"I didn't mind it at all. At the time it was one of those things where it was the best situation for our team to win ballgames. If I was starting, then I only threw once a week but if I was in the bullpen I would pitch much more which was an adjustment that I had to get used to but I thought I was successful at handling both roles."
On his draft process
"I knew I was going to go the second day of the draft (Rounds 3-10) and I was just waiting by my phone and just listening to all the picks on the MLB At Bat app. There were a lot of teams interested but I knew the Mets were among the most interested. My agent called and told me that the Mets were interested in taking me in the 6th or 7th round and obviously the 6th didn't happen and the 7th round came around and I got the call that the Mets picked me and I was excited and pumped. I knew the Mets were looking for left handed arms and we had talked so I wasn't crazy surprised it was them who called my name, but it was still very exciting."
On experiencing Brooklyn as his first professional assignment
"I liked Brooklyn a real lot. I did the piggyback role as I was on a bit of an innings limit from what I did at Georgia, so I didn't pitch as much as I wanted to but I really liked the city and the fans. I am a city boy, I spent a lot of time in Atlanta so I was used to the crowds and the traffic and everything. It was fun though for sure."
On his quick ascension to Double-A in his first full pro season
"I work real hard on my consistency and preparation in between starts. I take it day by day and don't really look ahead. I prepare myself each day to get ready for my next start, I can't worry about what is two months down the road. But when I started the year with St Lucie, I did make it a personal goal to make it to Double-A this year and I felt like I had a good year."
On the biggest difference between High-A and Double-A
"The hitters are smarter and they don't take as aggressive swings as you see sometimes in High-A. The zone is smaller which is what happens each level you go up, but it's something you have to get used to. There just is more of an emphasis on truly executing every pitch to the best of your abilities."
If he has a preference starter or reliever.
"I am very comfortable in both roles. I've pitched out of the pen on and off for the last four years. Whatever the Mets need is what I prefer to do."
On what he brings to the mound and what Mets fans should expect from him
"6 foot 5 lefty, throw 89-92 mph on the fastball. I throw a 4 seam, 2 seam, slider and changeup and am a competitor who wants to go deep in games when I start. I give my all out there and will do whatever is necessary to help the team win."