Thursday, May 26, 2011
In the second edition of “Bisons in the Pros”, Lipscombsports.com highlights the season Josh Smith is having as a professional.
Josh Smith, a 21st-round draft pick (637th overall selection) by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft is having a sensational start to his first full year as a pro.
“Any time you think about having success you want to be the best player you can be,” Smith said. “I think every pitcher comes into the year expecting to have great success and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. I have been blessed and fortunate and it’s working out for me so far.”
That is a humble way of putting it as the former Bison strikeout phenom is turning heads and grabbing the attention of big league executives from coast-to-coast.
Earlier this spring, Smith was named the Reds Minor League Player of the Month for April, going 2-1 with a 0.93 ERA for the Class-A Dayton Dragons. The former Bison struck out 35 and walked just seven batters in 29 innings pitched in the first month of the season.
The hard-throwing right-hander currently leads the Midwest League in strikeouts with 67 and ranks among the top-10 in ERA with a mark of 1.99.
In his most recent start on May 21, Smith struck out a season-high 13 batters while walking one in seven and one-third innings against Lake County. Smith’s 13-strikeout performance was one short of the franchise record.
So far this season, Smith credits his success to being able to throw all four pitches.
“I was able to throw all four pitches for strikes and was getting ahead of hitters,” Smith said. “I just go out there and compete everyday.”
Not only is Smith excelling on the bump, he is enjoying his time pitching in front of large crowds at Fifth Third Field in Dayton and across the Midwest League. The Midwest League is historically one of the better attended minor league baseball leagues in the country.
“We had 9,100 at the game the other night in Dayton and it was unbelievable,” Smith said. “The fans in Dayton are great and they really support the team. Coming from a smaller school where we usually didn’t play in front of crowds of this size, it’s been a neat experience. The biggest crowds I played at while pitching for Lipscomb were at LSU in 2007 and the NCAA Regional in 2008.”
With the instant success that Smith is having on the mound in Dayton, it’s just a matter of time before the Reds move him to Double-A. However, the native of Margate, Fla. takes each day as a new opportunity to get better.
“It’s always a goal to advance and get as high as you can, but it’s not something that I worry about,” Smith said. “I just go to the field and try to get better each and every day and let the other stuff play out.”
While Smith continues to carve up hitters across the Midwest League, he still keeps in touch with his former Bison teammates and finds time to hit the lynx with his buddies.
“Last fall, I made a few trips to see my former roommates, Ryan Wilkins and Matt Bowling and we played a couple of rounds of golf,” Smith said.
In addition, Josh continues to track and follow the progress of former Bisons teammates Rex Brothers and Caleb Joseph.
“I keep up with Rex and Caleb and try to follow their stats and see how their season is going,” Smith said. “It’s tough at times because we are on the bus a lot traveling and they are doing their thing as well.”
Time has flown by for Smith who ranks among the school’s leaders in nearly every pitching category since Lipscomb moved to Division I.
As a senior at Lipscomb, Smith earned Atlantic Sun First-Team All-Conference honors after going 8-4 with a 4.66 earned run average while ranking fourth nationally in strikeouts with 124. Smith tossed four complete games.
Smith is the only Lipscomb pitcher during the NCAA era to have two or more 100 strikeout seasons. In addition, he holds the NCAA-era record for strikeouts in a game with 15, wins a season (8), and innings pitched (104.1).
If history holds true, Smith will have a lucrative and long career as a pro.
Written by Travis Young, External Affairs/Media Relations Assistant