Sometimes numbers can deceive a tad leading one to conclusions that they otherwise shouldn’t be making. Â When it comes to Kyle Smith and his 2012 performance it is as impressive as we’ve seen in the Royals system since Dayton Moore took over.
Midwest League K Rate
Danny Duffy 31.4% 2008
Kyle Smith 31.1%
Danny Gutierrez 27.7% 2010 – 2nd trip
John Lamb 26.9% 2010
Yordano Ventura 25.1% 2011
Ed Cegarra 25% 2008
Tim Melville 23% 2009
Greg Billo 22.5% 2011
Mike Montgomery 22.4% 2009
Smith’s 4.35-1 K/BB ratio puts him in third behind Cegarra’s ridiculous 10-1 ratio and Billo’s 4.76 in 2011.
Those numbers speak largely to how advanced Kyle is as a pitcher. Â The 6′ 4th round pick from Florida came out of high school with what his pitching coach, Dave Manning, described as an extremely hard late moving Pedro Martinez type breaking ball. Â It is a true plus pitch and something he should be able to lean on as he climbs the ladder. Â It ranks right up there with the best curveballs in the org and I would put it ahead of Kyle Zimmer’s which Baseball America had tabbed as the top curve in the org.
On top of that plus curve Kyle is developing a nice change-up that looks to be an average to plus pitch down the road giving him two possible plus offspeed pitches.
These two pitches combined with his control and advanced command for the level really tip the scales in his favor at the lower levels. Â As you focus on the K% and K/BB ratio the names Ed Cegarra and Greg Billo should stand out to Royals fans. Â Both pitchers featured advanced command for the level which allowed them to shine despite below average fastballs. Â Coincidently both pitchers encountered Tommy John the season after their Midwest league dominance but I doubt that has a connection here.
It is that fastball that Smith routinely throws in the upper 80’s to low 90’s that leaves him in the 12 or 13th spot in our PTP rankings by our prospect analyst. Â If he was tipping the scales with a low to mid 90’s fastball on top of his intelligence and command then he would likely be a top 5 prospect in the system if not a Top 100 prospect in all of baseball. Â The fastball doesn’t have to have a mid 90’s to become a quality major league starter as the pitcher he has been comped to physically, Tim Hudson, has averaged a low 90’s velo since his rookie year. Â However if a pitcher is going to toss the ball at those speeds with his 4-seamer then he generally is going to need to introduce movement with a 2-seamer, splitter or cutter to induce weak contact, all of which Hudson throws.
The Royals haven’t done much of that in the past with the guys you see at the top of this list which could be a good reason to remain cautiously optimistic with Smith. Â There are other factors that I haven’t discussed just yet which could definitely skew things in his favor, things like work ethic and character both of which are off the charts for Smith but basing things just off the pitches currently leads me to my current ranking. Â All of that said I expect Kyle to dominate at High A Wilmington this season and earn a promotion to AA at some point this season. Â That will be the place he’ll get tested just like the pitchers thatÂ have come before him.
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