Blue Jays Top-30 Prospects: Honorable mentions, part one

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

LHP Matt Smoral
21 years old  –  6’8″, 220 pounds
Drafted: Round 1 (50), 2012

Smoral falls just short in our rankings this season, and has quickly become one of the more difficult prospects to slot in the system. Originally considered to be a top High School arm in his draft class, the towering lefty has struggled to stay healthy and perform consistently over his first three professional seasons.

A rocky debut in 2013 was quickly turned around in 2014, where Smoral did begin to flash the potential that had him inside Toronto’s top-20 prospects on some lists. Over 53.2 innings split between Vancouver and Bluefield that season, Smoral earned a 3.19 ERA while striking out a whopping 70 batters. Walks were an issue, however, with 33.

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While his body and projectability are both top-shelf, Smoral’s inability to locate the fastball has stunted his overall growth and limited the impact of his excellent slider. These control issues surfaced even more noticeably in Smoral’s shortened 2015 season, where he handed out 20 walks over 14.1 innings between Dunedin and Bluefield.

Despite being 21 years old, Smoral remains a bit of a distant project. All 13 of his appearances this past season came in a relief role, so it will be interesting to see if the organization remains committed to that path going forward or if they attempt to stretch him out once again. With just 93.2 career innings at the minor league level, though, it’s still all about patience.

The mechanical logistics of a 6’8″ lefty don’t always lend themselves well to fast-tracked development, but if Toronto remains committed to bringing Smoral along slowly, he could absolutely still develop into an impactful arm. His ceiling hasn’t necessarily changed, it’s just that Smoral has spun his tires getting out of the gates. With some health luck, improved fastball control and the continued development of his changeup, Smoral could be a sneaky candidate for a breakout prospect in 2016.

Next: Lane Thomas a near miss at second base