23 July, 2006

Alexander Smit Dispatches: Starting to get better

When last Donutball reported on Alexander Smit, the young Dutch lefthander was struggling with his control and quickly slipping down the prospects list.

Smit, as you may recall, was signed at 16 by the Minnesota Twins. We picked up his progress last August in his repeat season at Rookie ball. At Elizabethton, he put up gaudy numbers fanning so many (86 in 46 innings) that the temperature dropped 3 degrees.

This Spring he returned to Beloit in the Midwest League where he had struggled for a couple of months in 2005 (1-9, 5.98, 1.72 WHiP) leading to his demotion back to Tennessee. As a result, Smit fell back from No. 20 to No. 30 on Baseball America's prospect list for the Twins.

Before returning to Beloit this Spring, Smit was on the roster of the Netherlands entry in the World Baseball Classic. Donutball reported on his one and only, less than auspicious, appearance. Beloit was a come down. Smit lost control and was by all accounts pressing. With an ERA over 9.00, things looked unpromising.

Since our last visit to Beloit (May or June or whenever), a series of improving relief appearances - a 0.00 ERA in six June appearances, while striking out 21 batters in 10.2 - and an injury to Beloit starter Eddie Morlan gave Smit a chance. He made his first start - in place of Morlan - of the season on 28 June against Kane County pitching 4.1 innings in an 11-3 win. He allowed 2 runs on five hits, including a homer, and struck out 4.

Since then Smit has had a couple more starts and currently has an 11.2 inning scoreless streak. Last Thursday he worked 5 2/3 frames for the win over the Clinton Lumberkings conceding just three hits and two walks. The Dutchman struck out 8 bringing his total for the season to 72 in 60.2 innings. His ERA has dropped to 3.65 and his WHiP is at 1.35.


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