Down on the Farm: Drew Smyly

photos by: Michael Woods

2010: University of Arkansas
103 IP  9-1  2.80 ERA  1.17 WHIP  3.15  BB/9  9.96 K/9

BACKGROUND:
Lost in last years draft was a pitcher that hasn’t gotten much love in my opinion. With the excitement of Detroit drafting household names like  Nick Castellanos and Chance Ruffin, a quality starter has seemed to slip between the cracks. Staying true to my mission for this series, let me shed a little ink on a quality pitcher from Arkansas.
Drew Smyly was drafted in the  second round of the 2010 draft, out of the University of Arkansas. The 6-foot-3, 22-year-old left handed pitcher is a promising starter in the Detroit Tigers farm system.
Smyly was ranked their 9th best prospect by John Sickels and 8th best prospect by Baseball America. The little rock native posted solid numbers last season for the Razorbacks, tormenting SEC batters.

REPERTOIRE:

Smyly is a finesse pitcher that relies heavily on changing speeds. Have no fear though folks, he’ll bring a little heat from time to time. Smyly throws from a high 3/4 arm angle making him prone to inducing solid ground ball numbers. Drew features a low 90s fastball with great sinking action. He has been clocked as high as 94 mph but expect to see him sit regularly in the low 90s. He features a high 70s sweeping curveball that rates a tick above average.  He recently introduced a mid 80s cutter and also features a serviceable mid 80s change-up. While his fastball is noted to be his only “plus pitch”, he does have solid command and control of his entire arsenal.

FUTURE:
Despite his history of elbow problems, there does not seem to be many medical or durability concerns amongst scouts. He enjoyed an injury free season last year and he is currently healthy.  I see no real concern to over analyze his past injuries, but with all prospects staying healthy is paramount.
The term most frequently used to describe Drew Smyly by scouts has been consistent. It is believed by those same scouts that he should have no problem reaching his ceiling. Smyly seem less like a roll of the dice and more like a sure thing. Well… as close to a sure thing as one can get. While his ceiling doesn’t scream ace and he’s more likely to reach the title of serviceable back end starter. With the Tigers depth paper thin in the lefty starter department, a solid back end of the rotation guy who eats innings is fine by me.
I envision Smyly as an inning eater that simply finds ways to keep his team in the game while posting respectable numbers.  His command and control of his repertoire should move him through the farm system quickly. With his skill set, it seems reasonable for Smyly to open the season in Advanced-A Lakeland with a possibility of some time in AA Erie if all goes well.
He is on my short list of prospects that I’ll be keeping tabs on this season. Hopefully he does in fact start the season as a Flying Tiger so I can get a better look at what he brings to the table.

Keep an eye on Drew Smyly as he continues to earn his stripes down on the farm.

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