Potential Red Sox draft picks: Matt Smoral
|06.04.12 at 10:12 am ET|
One of the most interesting prospects to watch for in the 2012 MLB draft will be 6-foot-8 left-handed pitcher Matt Smoral. Smoral was the No. 6 prospect in the preseason ESPN 100 rankings, but after missing most of this season due to a stress fracture in his foot, Smoral fell to No. 19.
Smoral was certainly an effective pitcher last season though, recording a 4-1 record with a 1.82 ERA and 47 strikeouts through 34 2/3 innings. It was that type of season that helped Smoral get recruited to play at North Carolina, Louisville and Virginia before signing with UNC.
Smoral’s injury will hold him out until after the new signing deadline of July 13, which makes him a mildly risky pick in the first round. But based upon his projected talent, Smoral may be worth the risk.
Smoral has a fastball in the low-90s range that tops out at 94 mph, according to Baseball America. That fastball is complemented by a slider in the 81-84 mph range, as well as a changeup that is a similar speed to the slider.
One thing that makes him so difficult to hit is his delivery, as Smoral throws from a low 3/4 arm slot that makes it difficult for hitters to pick up on his pitches. The delivery also affects his slider, as it gives it a late break that will create a lot of swings and misses.
If Smoral can grow into his big frame, he has the potential to develop into a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. However, pitchers of his size tend to have injury issues, and the fact that he’s already undergone one surgery serves as something of a red flag. But if Smoral can stay healthy, especially as he develops, he represents a late first-round possibility with considerable upside.
Baseball America has Smoral slotted at pick No. 29 overall to the Rangers in its latest mock draft, which puts him in range for the Red Sox to either pick him at pick No. 24 or possibly No. 31 if he falls.
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