In 2015, the Detroit Tigers nabbed a young right-handed pitcher named Drew Smith in the third round of the draft. Smith was pick number 99. In an ironic coincidence, he happens to have a fastball that can reach 99 mph.
Smith stands 6’2 and weighs about 190. In comparison, Justin Verlander is 6’5 and Anibal Sanchez is 6’0. Smith is considered a bit small for a starter (as is Sanchez), so he is predicted to take the route of a relief pitcher – especially with the speed of his fastball.
Smith is from Crowley, Texas where he attended Crowley High School. He had just completed his sophomore year at Dallas Baptist University when the Tigers drafted him. The scouts liked his powerful fastball that usually sits in the mid-90s. He has a deceptive release that gets swings and misses.
In his final year in college, he pitched in 23 games earning a 4.35 ERA. In 41 1/3 innings, he struck out 33 batters and walked 17 of them. The Tigers scouts appreciated his durability as a pitcher. They also commented on his durability.
Smith pitched in one game with the Flying Tigers in Lakeland. In his short time in the Gulf Coast League, Smith pitched in only 1.2 innings. There, he allowed one hit, hit a batter, recorded three strikeouts, and faced seven batters. He then was sent to Connecticut to pitch for the Tigers. There, he faced 102 batters in 11 games. He earned an ERA of 0.33 allowing only one run and recording 33 strikeouts. At the end of the season, he pitched in one game for the West Michigan Whitecaps. He pitched in 1.2 innings, allowing one hit, one run, one walk, and two strikeouts. His WHIP for 2015 was an impressive 0.710.
As a prep player, Smith earned three varsity letters for baseball. He was the prep District’s 2012 MVP. He also received several other awards like All-State honors, All-District honors, and he was added to the Worth Star-Telegram Super Team. He also was placed on the honorable mention team for the Rawlings/Perfect Game Preseason Texas.
As a college player, Smith played in two seasons. In his freshman season, he started one game and appeared in six other games. He earned a 5.40 ERA in 11. 2 innings. As a sophomore, he appeared in more games, starting in seven of them. In the sophomore season, batters facing him only hit .219, despite his 5.79 ERA. In 42 innings, he struck out an impressive 34 batters.
During the 2013 summer season, he played in the Alaska Baseball League where Baseball America named his as the #5 prospect. He was awarded First Team All-Star in the Alaska Baseball League because he had the third most saves. He played for the Mat-Su Miners.
In 2016, Smith will most likely continue to build his speed and stuff in the minors. Since he has already dominated the mound in the Single-A New York-Penn League, where he was named to the All-Star team, he will start the 2015 season in West Michigan. If his success continues, it is possible that he could pitch for the Double-A Erie Seawolves.
He turned 22 in September of 2015, so he has plenty of time to work on his stuff to be a force in the major leagues. This young strike-out pitcher will be a fun one to watch as he moves through the minor leagues.