Drew Smith looked terrific early in spring training right through his 21 appearances with Triple-A Las Vegas. Now, he will be promoted and join the Mets before Friday's game.
Smith, who was acquired last summer from the Rays for Lucas Duda, is known for throwing a quick and slippery fastball. At first glance, I was concerned with how far down he dips his throwing shoulder, seemingly scraping the ball against his calf muscle, but it works for him and appears to be all part of his ability to look like he's throwing a lot harder than he is.
In 30 innings this season, Smith, 24, has a 3.00 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with 28 strikeouts pitching in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He had a 1.80 ERA and 0.87 WHIP last season in Double-A.
I watched him a lot from the batter's perspective and he repeatedly did a great job hiding the ball until his release point. He's also very methodical and slow in his delivery, but also explosive when time to deliver, which helps keep him consistent and extra deceptive.
He moved his fastball in and out of every quadrant and, though the radar gun consistently read 94 and 95 mph, the team's big-league hitters were routinely late, suggesting his histrionics have the pitch looking like it's upper 90s.
Smith's development was delayed early in his career due to injury. However, he cruised through three minor league levels in 2017, despite being traded two times (first by the Tigers to the Rays, then from the Rays to the Mets).
He entered this season ranked the organization's No. 30 prospect by MLB.com.
"He has all the ingredients to be an effective short reliever, with a ceiling of a future setup man," one prospect guru said this past winter.
The Rays and Tigers both talked him up as a potential closer, but only if he continued tucking in his front shoulder and better developed his changeup. I assume the Mets feel the same.
The MLB is all about hard-throwing relievers right now. It will be nice if Smith can help the current bullpen. More importantly, this should also help the front office determine to see if he can be a factor in 2019.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!