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  1. February 26, 2016; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Nate Smith (85) poses for a picture during photo day at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Prospect: Nate Smith                    Rank: 10

    2015/16: 11                                         Position(s): Left Handed Pitcher

    Level: AAA Salt Lake                        Age: Entering Age 25 season in 2017.

    Height: 6’3”                                        Weight: 210 lb.

       Present – Future

    Fastball          45  50

    Slider             55  60

    Curve             50  50

    Change          60  60

    Mechanics    60  60

    Command    55  60

    Control         55  60

    Overall         45  55
    Floor: Swing Starter or lefty specialist in MLB.

    Ceiling: A workhorse #3/4 starter in MLB

    Likely Outcome: A consistent #4/5 starter in MLB

    Summary:  It’s been difficult for Nate Smith to get any love as a pitcher, which is unfortunate because there really isn’t much more he could’ve done up to this point.  Drafted in the 8th round out of very little known Furman University, Smith was tabbed as a finesse lefty.  And for the most part, that was true.  He came to the Angels throwing 86-89 with a decent curve and solid change up.  Since then, Smith has gotten stronger at every level.  Now his fastball sits 88-89, and on nights he’s feeling particularly good, he’ll throw 92-93. which would classify him as a hard throwing lefty.  His curve ball is still decent, but has since been surpassed in effectiveness by his slider, which at times can resemble a plus pitch.  The solid change up has also turned into a legitimate plus pitch.  All of this progression was accomplished while still maintaining his roots in attacking the strike zone.

    Until this last season, Nate Smith had never once posted an ERA above 3.86 in the minor leagues. He even played for Team USA and led them to an eventual silver medal in the Pan-Am games.  Still, every talent evaluator doesn’t classify Smith as anything remarkable.  And that’s true, Smith isn’t a high upside pitcher.  He simply doesn’t have any real weakness to his game either, and that’s why he doesn’t get any love from big publications the way he should.  Smith is basically the Kole Calhoun of pitchers.  Nate’s just that pitcher other teams don’t have a ton of success against, but they also don’t remember why.  Well the truth is, Nate’s stuff isn’t that bad, and he spots his pitches in a manner that generates weak contact or swings and misses.

    If the Angels were in any sort of contention last season, it’s likely Nate Smith would’ve been promoted.  But since they weren’t, and Nate was injured down the stretch (which also explains the poor showing in August he had), the Angels chose to play it safe and delay his promotion until 2017.  While Billy Eppler has done a solid job building depth around Nate Smith like Manny Banuelos, Victor Campos, Alex Meyer and Jesse Chavez, we can still expect to see Nate Smith with the Angels in some capacity in 2017.

    What to expect next season: Nate was navigating the extremely hitter friendly environment in Salt Lake and the PCL until August, when I suspect Nate was injured and attempted to just pitch through it.  Smith can strike batters out, but for the most part he out-smarts them and allows hitters to get themselves out by keeping them off balance and hitting his spots.  If he continues this gameplay, we should see Smith in Anaheim by the all-star break, but regardless, I expect Nate Smith to break camp in AAA again.  But with all the uncertainty involving the Angels pitching staff, Smith finds himself in a free-for-all competition for the 5th starter spot and bullpen spots.  He’ll need to outpitch Alex Meyer, Manny Banuelos, Vicente Campos, Yusmeiro Petit, Brooks Pounders, Daniel Wright and more….  But he can do it, Smith has that capability to be sure.

    Estimated Time of Arrival: 2017, as a 25 year old. .

    Grade as a prospect: C+
    Grades are given from the 20-80 scouting scale.  20-being non-existent ability, 80-being the best I’ve ever seen.  MLB average is 50.

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