Tigers Prospect Profile #5: Drew Smyly

Smyly could head north with the big league club

On Sunday, the Tigers named Drew Smyly the fifth starter in the big league rotation. Find out the complete scouting report on the young left-hander inside! FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT

Drew Smyly
Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-3
Weight: 190
Born: 6/13/1989
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Background
The Tigers plucked Smyly out of the University of Arkansas with a second round selection in the 2010 draft. The draft-eligible sophomore signed for a $1.1 million signing bonus close to the August signing deadline and made his official pro debut in 2011.

After missing some time with injury early in the 2011 season, Smyly dominated the High-A Florida State League during his debut.

In 14 starts with Lakeland, Smyly posted a 7-3 record and 2.58 ERA in 80 1/3 innings. Over that span he allowed just 71 hits and 21 walks while striking out 77 hitters.

The Tigers promoted Smyly to Double-A Erie late in the year, giving him time to toss another 45 2/3 innings. This time he allowed only 32 hits and 15 walks with 53 strikeouts as he breezed through his first test against advanced professional hitters. Over that span he notched a 4-3 mark and posted a 1.18 ERA.

Scouting Report
Smyly is a lanky, lean athlete with a smooth delivery that he repeats well. He works from a higher arm slot, helping him get better angle to the plate and giving him a little extra deception in the process.

The foundation of Smyly's success stems from his ability to locate all of his pitches and consistently work in the lower third of the strike zone. He can push his 88-91 mph fastball to both sides of the plate and can reach back for 93 mph when he needs more and wants to elevate.

His fastball has some natural arm-side life that makes it difficult to barrel. Smyly can also cut his fastball, dropping it down to the mid-80s, allowing him to get in on the hands of right-handed hitters.

Smyly will also throw a curveball, slider and change-up. Scouts are mixed as to which pitch they prefer, but all three have their pluses and minuses. The curveball offers excellent vertical break, flashing as an above-average to plus pitch at its best.

Smyly will get caught in between his curveball and slider at times, failing to get the tight spin on his slider at times, and leaving it less effective than it could be. Some scouts I spoke with last year were advocating him scrapping the slider and focusing on more consistency with his curveball.

The change-up has become a viable weapon for Smyly. He gets solid sink on the ball and has begun to locate the pitch with his fastball.

With a four- or five-pitch mix, Smyly certainly has the robust arsenal to succeed in a big league rotation. All of his pitches will show as at least a fringe-average pitch and some will flash as plus pitches at times.

Smyly is an astute pitcher with an excellent feel for mixing his pitches and working through a lineup multiple times. He has exceptional mound presence and good poise. At his best, Smyly could profile as a number three or four starter in the big leagues.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

WHIP

A+

Lakeland

7-3

2.58

14

14

0

77

21

80.1

1.15

AA

Erie

4-3

1.18

8

7

0

53

15

45.2

1.03


Health Record
There are concerns of Smyly's ability to remain healthy over the long haul. He missed his freshman season at Arkansas after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left elbow. After recovering from that, he missed an extended stretch in 2011 with elbow soreness.

The Future
Smyly has pitched extremely well this spring in big league camp and he has a chance to be the Tigers fifth starter to begin the season.

Long term, Smyly has the potential to sit in the middle of the Tigers rotation, offsetting some of the power arms that the Tigers covet, with a command and feel lefty that gets by on deception, location and intelligence more than raw stuff.

Smyly may not be ready to hold down the rotation spot for the full year as he continues to increase his workload early in his career, but he should be ready for a full season of big league action in 2013.

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