2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects: #3 Drew Smyly

The Detroit Tigers Minor League affiliates seasons are officially in the books and the off-season is in full swing. With another season completed, the time has come for John Verburg and I to announce our 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects List. Over the last month John and I have combined our lists to form a final product for our readers. Each players production, ceiling, floor and positional value ultimately determined their overall ranking. The finalized prospect list will be rolled out five at a time on my end covering each players background and a description on why they’re ranked that high and/or low. John will follow with a more detailed scouting report on each of the prospects.

Be sure to check back frequently and join the discussion as we work our way through the 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects List.


2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects: #3 Drew Smyly

 #3 Drew Smyly

Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Age: 22-years-old
Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 190

2011 Teams: Advanced-A Lakeland & AA-Erie
2011 Combined Stats: 126 IP  11-6  2.07 ERA  1.10 WHIP  9.3 K/9  2.6 BB/9  0.1 HR/9
2012 Projected Team: AAA-Toledo / Detroit



The Detroit Tigers selected Drew Smyly in the second round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Arkansas. In his final season as a Razorback, Smyly finished 9-1 with a 2.80 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. Smyly limited walks and struck out over a batter an inning in 103 innings of work.

Smyly began his pro career last season as the ACE for the Advanced-A Lakeland Flying Tigers. His time there can almost be described as A Tale of Two Drews. In his first three starts–17 2/3 innings–Smyly posted a 4.08 ERA and 1.42 WHIP to begin the season. Not to shabby, but nothing to write home about either. Shortly before his fourth start, Smyly was then shelved with “general soreness” and given an undetermined timeline for his return. After a month on the disabled list, Smyly returned to the Flying Tigers rotation, exceeding expectations. He finished 7-3 with a 2.58 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings. Smyly was also named the FSL Pitcher of the Week for his performance in early June.His outstanding performance in the FSL earned him a late season promotion to AA-Erie. The numbers only improved despite the increase in talent. In 8 starts, Smyly finished 4-3 with a microscopic 1.18 ERA for the SeaWolves. He continued to miss bats, racking up 53 strikeouts over 45 2/3 innings.

His overall performance last season earned him the 2011 Detroit Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.

Smyly was also selected to represent Team U.S.A. in the Baseball World Cup in Panama. He did not allow a single run in his three starts, going 2-0 with 17 shutout innings and 17 strikeouts. Smyly scattered ten hits and allowed just one extra-base hit over that span. He continued to limit walks–just one–and did not allow a home run either.

Smyly is a crafty southpaw that relies heavily on changing speeds. He throws from a high 3/4 arm slot that exposes the ball quite a bit. He does a great job of keeping hitters off balance though, generating lots of weak contact and quality strikeouts. What makes him unique though is his ability to maintain impressive walk ratios and limit home runs in the process.

Mechanically speaking, his delivery in general appears almost effortless, especially in the lower half of his body. He seemed to repeat his delivery very well regardless of the offering.

He definitely didn’t allow as many ground-balls as I expected. He regularly worked all quadrants of the strike zone though which probably explains the results. You’ll hear scouts say that he should work lower in the zone more often. I’m not sure his approach is really flawed though. I can understand the argument of he’s getting beat often but he’s not. Smyly gave up TWO home runs last season. In my opinion his ability to attack all areas of the plate only increases his value moving forward.

His repertoire features a low 90s fastball with great sinking action. He has been clocked as high as 95 mph in scouting reports, but he sat regularly in the 88-92 zone when I saw him. Both his cutter and change-up took a leap forward last season. His mid-80s cutter tormented FSL right-handed batters. What was described as a fringey change-up appeared pretty damn solid to me, leading me to believe that quite a bit of development occurred. Smyly will also mix in a low 80s sweeping curveball on occasion. His command and control of his entire arsenal were as advertised, excellent!

Why He’s This High/Low:
Smyly wasn’t exactly a sexy pick when he was drafted. I think a lot of folks weren’t to happy with his back of the rotation projection. You hate to jump to conclusions after one season of data but I think we might be selling him a bit short. Not only is it realistic to project Smyly in Detroit sometime next season, I think he’ll make an immediate impact. Drew Smyly has the “stuff” to be a very solid starter in The Show. If that happens to be as a fifth starter then so be it. He’d be a pretty damn good fifth starter then.

In a nutshell, Smyly eats innings, misses bats, avoids walks and keeps the ball in the yard. Seriously, what more can you ask for? Oh yeah, I forgot, he’s also left-handed.

You might find Smyly a tad lower on the rankings elsewhere but if you haven’t figured it out yet, I feel he’s completely undervalued. Smyly will compete for the fifth starter position in Spring Training if the Tigers fail to ink another starter. Worse case scenario he should begin the season in AAA-Toledo where an injury or poor performance would likely punch his ticket to Motown.

2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects

#50 – #46

#45 – #41

#40 – #36

#35 – #31

#30 – #26

#25 – #21

#20 – #16

#15 – #11

#10 – #6 





Like what you see here and want to stay informed on the happenings at MCB? Make sure to follow me on twitter @ JAYRC_MCB and grab our RSS feed.


Next Tigers Game View full schedule »
Saturday, Aug 3030 Aug6:10at Chicago White SoxBuy Tickets

Tags: 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects Down On The Farm Drew Smyly Erie SeaWolves Lakeland Flying Tigers

  • funkytime

    Are you still projecting him to just be a fifth starter? It seems like he has higher upside than that to me. He clearly raised his stock a lot last year, so why would he still be projected the same as he was pre-draft?


      @funkytime good question. I think he has middle of the rotation stuff. He’d obviously fit in with the Tigers current staff quite well, as they need a lefty pretty bad. Despite the increase in his value, he’d likely still be their fifth starter unless they slot him fourth and move Porcello down.
      Either way you slice it, he’ll be a very solid addition to their rotation. I’d bring him up before Turner just because Turner has so much room for growth. Rushing Turner stunts his growth IMO.

  • woodnick

    Jay, I agree with you completely about bringing up Smyly before they do Turner, but If it were my decision I’d really turn it into a straight competition between Wilk and Below plus any additional guys they may sign before the season starts, maybe a Maholm or a Francis, as I see Wilk and Below as the only guys that are probably “ready” at this point and give them a tryout until mid-June to see what they can do while Smyly, Turner, Oliver, and Crosby develop more down on the farm.

  • valordesign

    Smyly I think is just beginning to get the respect he deserves. It annoys me when his name is casually thrown around by Tiger fans in trade talks. I think at this point he is still under the radar and you would be selling ridiculously low for someone that has a strong potential as a middle of the rotation lefty – exactly what the Tigers need. I like Smyly alot, I think Turner, Castellanos and Smyly – all three have very similar potential value, and next year Smyly will begin to start standing out as a premier prospect.

  • Tigerized

    The 2 HR’s allowed in 126 innings is what stands out to me.You can try to evaluate velocity,location,movement,etc,but the HR allowed # does a good job in telling the story.I would like to see Smyly and Co. get more time on the farm,but if he puts up a sub 2 era again to start next year,I’m not sure how you could keep him there.

  • Pingback: 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects: #2 Nick Castellanos - Motor City Bengals - A Detroit Tigers Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More