Tigers Prospect Profile #40: Chad Smith

Smith spent time across three levels in 2012

A 2011 draftee, Chad Smith never got the chance to show off his ability in his debut year due to Tommy John surgery. However, after recovering, Smith came back strong in 2012, shining across three levels.

Chad Smith
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-3
Weight: 215
Born: 10/2/1989
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Acquired: 2011 MLB Draft, 17th Round
Ranking History: #53 (2011)

Background
Smith was popped by the Tigers in the 17th round in 2011, despite missing the spring season at USC because of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. They gave him an over-slot bonus to sign and worked with him to complete his rehab in 2011.

After staying back in extended spring, Smith debuted with a 0.61 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings for the GCL Tigers. The club moved him to short-season Connecticut and he again dominated with a 1.42 ERA in 6 1/3 innings before his final promotion of the year to West Michigan. With the Whitecaps, Smith allowed 23 hits in 24 2/3 innings with 17 strikeouts and a 4.38 ERA.

Scouting Report
Smith is a strong, broad-shouldered guy with excellent present strength. His rehab from surgery allowed him to develop his body and fill out his ideal pitcher's frame.

Working from a low-3/4 arm slot, Smith gets very good sink on his fastball that was sitting at 90-92 mph this summer and has touched as high as 96 mph pre-surgery. His sinking fastball is extremely heavy and can induce ground balls with ease.

Smith pairs a solid slider with his fastball, a pitch that works well given his lower arm angle. His slider shows good vertical movement and occasional horizontal action with some ability to miss bats.

Though the Tigers have worked to develop Smith's change-up, the pitch lags behind his primary two offerings and his limited feel suggests it is unlikely to develop as he moves up the ladder. He showed a willingness to throw the pitch in 2012 but it didn't fool many hitters.

With a heavy fastball, quality slider and the lack of a change-up, Smith profiles better in the bullpen. He throws strikes most of the time, but didn't show the ability to locate his two-seam fastball with regularity.

Given his durable frame and ability to work multiple innings, Smith could be developed as a middle reliever capable of picking up extra innings in the middle of ball games. His ceiling sits in the seventh inning and he would have to significantly improve his command to reach that projection.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

BAA

R

GCL Tigers

1-0

0.61

4

3

0

23

6

14.2

.250

SS-A

Connecticut

0-0

1.42

2

0

2

8

2

6.1

.143

A

West Michigan

0-2

4.38

8

5

0

17

6

24.2

.250


Health Record
Smith has already had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow but appeared strong in his comeback this summer. He has a durable frame with good strength, suggesting injury issues should not become chronic.

Projection
The Tigers have options with Smith heading into 2013. They can continue to stretch him out and work him in longer outings or they can focus his role in the bullpen where he will likely end up long term. He could land with either West Michigan or Lakeland depending on his spring performance.

If the Tigers opt to zero him in with a role in the bullpen, Smith could develop quickly as a middle reliever. He keeps the ball in the park with his ground ball tendencies and has two above-average pitches that can work against both right and left-handed hitters.

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