Mets prospect Kevin Smith has shown the ability to pitch out of both the bullpen and the rotation, and could become an option for the Mets in 2020 ...
Weight: 200 lbs
MLB Pipeline Mets Prospect Ranking: N/A
2019 Statistics: 3.05 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6-5 record in 91.1 innings pitched over 18 starts while allowing 86 hits, 28 walks and striking out 103
Kevin Smith was born in Dunwoody, Georgia. He attended Dunwoody High School. Going in to his senior season, he was named to the Preseason All Region Team by Perfect Game. He participated in the Perfect Game East Cobb Invitational where his fastball was clocked as high as 88 mph.
His senior season he posted a 1.60 ERA and struck out 74 batters in 48 innings. He made the Perfect Game national top 500 high school prospect list as number 500. He won Team MVP for Dunwoody, as well as DeKalb County Pitcher of the Year and 1st-Team All-DeKalb County.
Smith committed to the University of Georgia and went undrafted out of high school. As a freshman at Georgia, he appeared 13 games (7 starts) and posted a 3.91 ERA while striking out 40 batters in 46.1 innings. After his season at Georgia he went on to pitch in the Cape Cod League where he pitched all but one of his 13 outings out of the bullpen where he posted a 2.20 ERA and struck out 35 against only 6 walks in 28.2 innings.
As a sophomore he got hit around a lot more with a 4.87 ERA and allowing more than a hit per inning and walked 4.6 per 9 innings. He did improve upon his strikeout rate as he started to be able to throw a little harder with some mechanical adjustments. Smith was invited back to the Cape Cod League where he appeared in 4 games, all starts and posted a 3.50 ERA.
In his junior season at Georgia, he spent the beginning and the end of his season in the rotation, but spent the middle portion of it as the bullpen ace for the Bulldogs. He went 8-1 with a 3.69 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 63.1 innings. He also made the SEC Academic Honor Roll. The Mets decided to draft him in the 7th round of the 2018 MLB Draft and agreed to sign him for $222,300.
With The Mets
After signing with the Mets, Smith began his professional career with Brooklyn. After throwing 63.1 innings at Georgia, to limit his innings the Mets limited him to 12 appearances (3 starts) and only 23.2 innings. He handled the New York-Penn League well, posting a 0.76 ERA and allowed only 12 hits and 6 walks while striking out 28.
In 2019, the Mets made the decision to make Smith a full-time starting pitcher and assigned him to High-A St Lucie to start the season. He started 17 games and his "pitchability" and improved stuff impressed Mets people. In those 17 starts, he pitched to a 3.05 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He allowed 83 hits and only 24 walks in 85.2 innings while striking out 102. The Mets promoted Smith to Double-A Binghamton and he made his Double-A debut on July 20th. He threw 5.2 innings and allowed 3 hits, 2 runs, 4 walks and 1 strikeout. It still is a really nice development for a guy that wasn't a full-time starter since high school to be able to progress to Double-A essentially within his first calendar year in pro ball as a starting pitcher. In their most recent Mets top 30 prospect update, Baseball America ranked Smith as the number 10 prospect in the Mets system.
Smith possesses a 3-pitch-mix with a fastball that he will throw in the 88-93 mph range, and a slider and changeup that both reside in the low 80s. While not a big stuff guy, Smith has a lower arm slot which creates some deception in his delivery. He also possesses plus spin rate on his fastball and slider which helps his stuff play up.
The Mets will continue to develop Smith as a starter where if he is able to refine his changeup he has the potential to be a back end starting pitcher. Since turning pro, Smith has possessed splits where he is very difficult to pick up by left-handed hitters, allowing an OPS of .163 last year in Brooklyn and a .514 OPS this year. If the Mets decide to fast track Smith and move him into the pen where maybe in shorter outings he can get a little more out of his stuff, he could potentially be someone you talk about as an option in the latter part of 2020.
While Smith may not be a big-time impact prospect, I think he has a pretty good chance of being a big leaguer, and depending on role maybe not in the too distant future. He is definitely a prospect on the Mets radar now.