Scouting Yankees Prospect #38: Caleb Smith

Scouting Yankees Prospect #38: Caleb Smith

The Yankees drafted left-handed pitcher Caleb Smith in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Sam Houston State University. Not only did he post some dominant numbers in his debut season with the Staten Island Yankees but he showed the kind of overall game that could allow him to be a quick mover through the minor leagues.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Caleb Smith
Position: Pitcher
DOB: July 28, 1991
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Left

He went 1-2 and posted a 1.89 ERA for the Staten Island Yankees last year, held opposing batters to a .195 batting average, struck out better than a batter per inning pitched, and did not give up one home run in his debut season.

"I think it went pretty well," he said. "I thought for the most part that I threw the ball pretty well. I just need to work on command a little bit but other than that I thought it went pretty well.

"I wasn't surprised at all. I usually put up pretty good numbers for the most part, but I was pretty pleased with myself. I wasn't surprised by any means though."

It's his advanced stuff and overall pitch-ability that makes him so confident, not to mention the ability to be so deceptive on the mound with a sneaky-quick fastball and a devastating changeup.

"Everyone tells me that I hide the ball really well," he said. "It's only coming in at 91-93 mph but everyone tells me it looks like it's 95-96 because I hide the ball so well. It's just natural. It's my delivery I guess."

It doesn't hurt complimenting his deceptive fastball with a changeup that bottoms and fades as much as his, not to mention being a pitch that he has the utmost faith in locating.

"I probably have the most confidence in my fastball or changeup. I'm really comfortable with my changeup. I feel like I can throws that in a 3-0 count just as a get me over pitch."

It's not as if he didn't enter the professional ranks with one glaring weakness in his game -- his breaking ball. However, what has Smith's stocking soaring already is just how far his slider has developed in such a short period of time.

"It's changed in all three aspects," he said of his slider. "The velocity increased -- when I first started out in Staten Island it was a little slow, like 79-82 mph and a little loopy at times. And every now and then I would throw one that was really sharp with a good break.

"I mainly worked on that at Instructs and pretty much every one I throw now the velocity is up and it has really tight break to it, really late and quick break."

Improving the command, break, and velocity with his slider in one short season to now go along with two above average or better pitches he already had with his fastball and changeup has him brimming with confidence heading into his first full season in 2014.

"I'm really excited about it. I feel like I'm going to do really well. I'm going to do a lot better with the things they changed in my mechanics and my slider. I think it's going to be a really good season. I'm interested to see what happens," he concluded.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2013

Trenton

0-0

0

3.2

3

1

5

2.45

2013

Staten Island

1-2

0

47.2

33

15

52

1.89



Repertoire. Fastball, Changeup, Slider.

Fastball. Smith might not throw 97 mph like some lefties can but he still has a plus fastball with the movement he generates and the deception he gets, all while sitting an above average 91-93 mph and topping out at 94 mph routinely on the radar gun. He only throws sinking two-seamers and not only do they get great downward movement but he has late-life explosion to his heater. If there is a downside to his fastball it is the fact that sometimes his control can get a little spotty due to the movement he gets, but even when that happens he can avoid the big mistake because he almost always misses low.

Other Pitches. Smith's plus changeup, a pitch that will sit anywhere from 79-84 mph, is what makes his fastball even more more deceptive. Like his fastball, his changeup dives downward and really bottoms out, and his arm speed doesn't deviate the slightest between the two pitches. While command of the two-seamer can evade him at times, he can locate his changeup at will. He rounds out his repertoire with a rapidly developing slider that shows long-term above average potential. It sat mostly 79-80 mph early in the season last year, but by the end of Instructs it was averaging 82-85 mph and showing depth and late-breaking action.

Pitching. Smith employs a very quick tempo on the mound and his approach is to go right after batters, get ahead in counts, and put them away as fast as possible. He is all business when he toes the rubber. Because his two best pitches -- his fastball and changeup -- dive downward so much, he lives in the lower-half of the strike zone. That means when he misses the zone it's usually down and it's a big reason why he is so adept at keeping the ball in the ballpark, and why he is good at inducing double-play balls. He shows a good pickoff move too. Mechanically he could use a little more consistency but that is really nit-picking.

Projection. Any pitcher boasting a changeup like his and is able to maintain his velocity deep into games like he can has the ceiling of a middle to back-end big league starting pitcher. Further developing the consistency of his newfound slider will be key going forward to reach that kind of ceiling but he is well on his way.

ETA. 2016. Smith is an excellent candidate to bypass the low-A level in 2014, especially after pitching quite well in his one-game trial at the Double-A level at the end of last season. He very well could open up the season in high-A Tampa and it's not beyond the realm of possibility he could get back to Trenton by season's end.

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