05 April, 2006

Alexander Smit Dispatches - Opening Day (minus 1) Edition

Donutball's adopted minor leaguer, Dutch southpaw Alexander Smit, starts the season at the Beloit Snappers in the Class A Midwest League. Smit also opened 2005 at Beloit but was demoted back to the Appy League when he was hit hard.

Meanwhile, Smit made one appearance during inaugural World Baseball Classic. He relieved starter Rob Cordemans in the 3rd inning of the Netherlands opener against Puerto Rico. The 20 year old looked nervous and tentative in an inning of work.

He recorded a loud fly out on his first pitch to Alex Rios to end the 3rd. In the 4th, he got Alex Cintron to hit another loud out to left after going behind 2-1. Luis Matos then worked a walk as Smit was beginning to lose consistency on his release point. Jose Valentin stroked a fastball to left for single. Then, Smit tried twice to go inside on Alex Cora only to hit on the second pitch.

That brought up crowd favourite Bernie Williams with the bases full. Again Smit struggled to keep his composure. Smit stayed outside; Williams hung tough with a fastball and drilled it to the warning track in right. Dirk van Klooster misplayed the ball into a hit, but recovered to throw out Valentin at home.

Smit came out after that play and looked downcast as you would expect he would. He didn't get another shot at pitching in the WBC though as the Netherlands were unlikely to progress from the group stages, it was always odds on that he would only get one games work. Indeed only one Dutch pitcher appeared twice in the Classic.

The experience should serve Smit well, but now's the time to knuckle down to the regular season. As with all WBC participants, there's likely to be close scrutiny of Smit's progress through the summer.

Beloit opens Thursday night at home to the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the LA Angels' Midwest League entry.

Of course, Smit's exploits were completely obscured by Shairon Martis 7 inning no-hitter against Panama in the last game of the group. Martis, from Curacao, threw 65 pitches in the 10-0 mercy killing so just avoided being lifted under the pitch limit rule.

Martis, a Giants' prospect, pitched 34 innings over 11 games in the Arizona Rookie League last summer. Scouts say his breaking stuff is well advanced, but at age 18 there's a long way to go. Martis will probably remain in extended spring training. The Giants don't have a rookie league club outside of Arizona so Martis might repeat or be sent to Short Season A with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the Northwest League.


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