Prospect Profile: Brennan Smith
By John Verburg
I continue my series in looking at some guys that fall out of our Tigers top 50 prospects with Brennan Smith today. Although Smith falls out of the top 50, he is a little bit intriguing, and certainly worth tracking going forward. I suspect that Smith will get a starting spot in the West Michigan rotation, and possibly Lakeland if the Tigers feel like he is having a good spring.
For an in depth look at Brennan Smith, follow through the jump……
Brennan Smith is a 6’3″ 200lb. right-handed pitcher drafted in the 33rd round out of Bowling Green by the Tigers in 2010. Smith, who suffered through a rough year in college in 2010, saw his draft stock drop after a good 2009 for Bowling Green, in which he was named 2009 MAC Pitcher of the Year. Smith showed well after being drafted, and posted a 3.38 ERA for the Tigers short-season Connecticut Tigers club. In 2011, Smith, who turned 22 years old this year, started his year with the West Michigan Whitecaps. Smith struggled a little bit for the Whitecaps, going 1-3 in 9 games for the Caps’, and posting an ERA of 4.99. He struggled with command, walking right around 4.5/9 in his first full-season effort. When the short-season teams began, Smith was sent back to Connecticut, where he dominated opponents for most of the rest of the summer. With Connecticut in 2011, Smith 4-3 in 14 starts with a miniscule ERA of 1.53. Smith had a stretch near the end of the season where he didn’t allow a run in 4 straight starts, making him pop up on people’s radar.
Smith actually owns 4 pitches, but like a lot of youngsters who might own 4 pitches, not all of them are successful. He throws a fastball, splitter, curve, and a change.
Smith’s fastball is a solid offering and projects as major league average. He mostly sits in the low 90’s with the pitch, and it can run from 88-92 on most nights, sometimes topping out at 94. While, he can reach back for a little extra on occasion, he doesn’t have enough life on the fastball to blow it by people. He does tend to throw strikes with the pitch, but he could stand to command his fastball better, and get a little more downward plane and movement to generate ground balls.
His splitter might be his most effective pitch. There is a decent differential from his fastball, about 7 or 8 mph and he does generate some swings and misses with the pitch. He also can throw strikes with it if needed, and eventually this would essentially be his change in my opinion.
His curve is clearly his 3rd best offering at this point. Some feel he has the aptitude to get better with it, but it lacks sharp break, and can get loopy at times. He doesn’t throw the pitch with much consistency at this point, and will have to continue to work on the pitch if he wants to stick as a starter moving forward.
The change is Smith’s least effective pitch at this point, and developing it might not be worth the effort. He slows his arm down, and it lacks fade and movement. He could improve it with some work, but as mentioned, I think he should scrap it and focus on the splitter essentially being his change.
I kind of liken Smith to another Bowling Green product the Tigers drafted about 7 years ago and that is the Marlins reliever Burke Badenhop. Smith has a little bit better of a fastball, but his secondaries aren’t as sharp at this point. That doesn’t mean they won’t get better, but even if the curve and change get to big league average, he is still a swing man type to me, much like Badenhop. Smith might have a better chance as a 6th and 7th inning reliever, where he could ramp up the fastball to 93-94 more often.
Smith is a fringy guy for me, and might end up being a nice throw in for a team trading with the Tigers. There could be some big league utility in 3 years, but I don’t see much more than a marginal guy. And that isn’t all that bad, considering he was picked in the 33rd round.