The Los Angeles Angels are struggling in the pitching department. Between injuries and inconsistency, they could be looking to stir things up as this veteran team is in a win-now mode. They don’t need to look too far for that spark, as one place they could look is in Triple-A.
When the they shipped Sean Newcomb to the Atlanta Braves in the Andrelton Simmons deal this past offseason, Nate Smith became their top pitching prospect. While the 24-year-old lefty has never flashed ace-like stuff, he didn’t simply jump the charts by default. His fast start in Triple-A could get him to the major leagues very soon.
Smith was drafted in the eighth round in 2013 out of Furman. It’s rare that such a late draft pick rises to the top of a team’s prospect board, but Smith’s quick rise up the Angels ladder has begun to garner him some attention.
The southpaw is much more finesse than he is flare, as none of his pitch repertoire stands out as elite. He doesn’t throw any pitch particularly great, but lands all four pitches of his arsenal pretty consistently and well. His command of both sides of the plate keeps batters at bay, which he has learned to use to his advantage with merely average stuff.
Smith throws a fastball that sits in the low-90s, often not getting much higher than 92 miles per hour. He has a changeup that is considered his best offering. He also adds a slider and curve and while both miss bats, his slider is the better of the two offerings.
His delivery is pretty solid. He repeats it well, and it doesn’t look so jerky as to suggest he would have a future of recurring injuries. One tweak that could improve his delivery is that he seemingly doesn’t come straight at the plate. While he lands balanced, his right foot comes off to the side of the mound.
Smith has remained steady throughout his career, aside from a small blip on the radar in his seven-start debut in the Pacific Coast League, when he allowed 31 runs over just 36 innings. Even Julio Urias struggled in his PCL debut, so that is hardly a major concern or end-all judgement. What needed to be seen was how Smith rebounded.
For more on Smith and how the Angels would be wise to give him a chance down the road, as well as video and projections head on over to Today’s Knuckleball and check out the entire article by clicking the link below: