Saturday, June 7, 2014

17-496: Ben Smith

With the first pick of the 17th Round of the 2014 MLB Draft (496th overall) the Astros select LHP Ben Smith out of Coastal Carolina University.

Smith is a 6'2" 185lb junior, and was ranked #175 in's Top 200 draft prospects, and #351 in Baseball America's Top 500. He slipped in the draft because he just had Tommy John surgery in April. Before the 2014 season, he was ranked #48 by Baseball America and #51 by on their respective Top 100 college players lists.

He was named First Team All-Big South in 2013 after a 5-4, 2.23 ERA season, spanning 16 starts and 92.2 IP with 83:53 K:BB. This year, he was 1-3 with a 2.51 ERA, 38:23 K:BB in 6 starts (28.2 IP) before he got hurt.
With a strong sophomore year and a standout summer in the Cape Cod League, Smith pitched himself into consideration for the top three rounds of the 2014 Draft. He struck out 11 in his season-opening start against Pittsburgh, but he blew out his elbow in late March and had Tommy John surgery a month later. When healthy, Smith had an 88-91 mph fastball that touched 93 but got fairly straight at times. His best pitch is his changeup, which he sells with deceptive arm speed. His three-quarters breaking ball gave him a third average-or-better offering, and he wasn't afraid to throw it against right-handed hitters. Once he recovers from his elbow reconstruction, Smith will have to do a better job of throwing strikes. He made strides with his control and command on the Cape, but he has averaged 5.0 walks per nine innings in three seasons at Coastal Carolina.