Orioles pitching prospect Kevin Smith has spent about a year in Baltimore’s organization since the New York Mets dealt him to the Orioles as part of a package for reliever Miguel Castro, and Smith is thrilled with the environment he finds himself in as he works to make it to the big leagues.
Smith, 24, was drafted by New York in the seventh round of the 2018 MLB Draft, reaching Double-A a year later. The Mets were impressed enough with Smith to invite him to their alternate site last summer, then used him as a chip when they needed help at the big-league level. He reported to the Orioles’ alternate site after the trade and now finds himself with Triple-A Norfolk.
Has Smith seen any differences between the Mets and Orioles yet?
“There weren’t huge differences, but there are definitely differences on the development side, just the way they do things,” Smith said on Glenn Clark Radio Aug. 24. “All organizations do stuff differently. Honestly, the time I got traded, I had about three or four weeks at the alternate camp where I got used to everybody — all the new coaches, players and everybody. Honestly, I was just getting acclimated but I love it here. I’ve gotten to know everybody and I’ve really enjoyed it here so far.”
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound left-hander began this year at Double-A Bowie, posting a 1.04 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 10 walks in 26 innings before earning a promotion Norfolk. It’s been more of a struggle with the Tides. He has a 5.28 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 30 walks in 44.1 innings entering play Sept. 2.
Smith’s biggest issue at Norfolk, according to the left-hander, has been his control. He’s walked 22 hitters in his past eight outings, spanning 27 innings. He walked 13 hitters during a three-start stretch from late July to early August.
“Walks have never really been a big problem for me, just the past couple weeks or so it’s hurt me, honestly,” Smith said. “It gets you into situations that you don’t necessarily need to be in, so that’s a big thing that I’ve been working on.”
Smith wants to finish the season strong at Triple-A, and should that occur, a big-league chance could be waiting. The Orioles have a well-documented lack of starting pitching depth at the major-league level, which should give Triple-A arms like Smith, Michael Baumann and Kyle Bradish opportunities at some point — if not in September, then perhaps at some point next year.
“Obviously I want to be up in the big leagues as quick as possible,” Smith said. “You can’t rush it. My biggest thing right now is just trying to continue to improve every outing. Whenever they call my name, I’ll be ready for it.”
Smith touched on several other topics, including …
On working with catcher Adley Rutschman:
“He definitely checks all the physical aspects off of playing the game. The big thing for us that I enjoy is he wants to work with the pitchers, which is a huge part of catching. He wants us to do well. He wants to know what we want to do and how we want to attack hitters, which is obviously really good for a catcher. I’m definitely excited for the future with that.”
On Rutschman meeting pitchers after every inning and before getting to the dugout:
“Usually it’s just a quick conversation of what happened that inning, if it’s good, bad or what we were seeing. It’s just part of the learning process for both of us to get used to each other. I like it. I love it. Usually catchers do that in the dugout. Sometimes they meet you like he does. Usually it’s just a casual conversation of what happened that inning and what to do next inning and the game plan, honestly.”
On if he’s aware of the Jay and Silent Bob movies featuring actor Kevin Smith:
“I’m aware of it now, but I didn’t know anything about it until my professional career. But now I’m definitely aware of it. I get a lot of stuff on social media about Silent Bob, when I was in New York especially. I still get it to this day. It’s pretty funny.”
Note: Smith’s numbers were updated following his start Sept. 1.
For more from Smith, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Scott Sears