The Toronto Blue Jays continue to make cuts this spring optioning reliever Chris Smith to their minor league affiliate.
Blue Jays RHP Chris Smith will join Triple-A Buffalo for the rest of spring training. He appeared in five games over the course of spring earning a save while striking out five.
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Smith attended Butler Traditional High School, before moving on to Kentucky Wesleyan College. He was both a pitcher and a position player (IF/OF) for the school, setting records in games started (187) and saves (8).
Undrafted in the MLB, Smith was selected in the first round by the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League. From 2010 to 2011, he would play for Fort Erie, Traverse City Beach Bums, Washington Wild Things and White Sands Pupfish of the Pecos League. During this time, he would earn a 4-3 record with 54-strikeouts.
For the 2012 season, Smith would play for both the Washington Wild Things and the Brisbane Bandits of the Australian Baseball League. He would combine for 12-9, with 181-strikeouts, in 28-games (179.3 IP). The 2013 season would be bitter-sweet.
In 2013, the New York Yankees signed Smith to a minor league deal. However, due to a stress fracture in his arm, was forced to sit out the entire season. In 2014, he split between the Class-A Charleston River Dogs and Advanced-A Tampa Yankees. Smith would go 1-2 in 32 relief appearances, with 49-strikeouts, and a 2.98 earned run average.
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In 2015, Smith started the season with Advanced-A Tampa and was called up to AA Trenton in May. However, come mid-July, he was released by the Yankees. Unemployment would not last, as the Toronto Blue Jays would sign Smith to a minor league contract at the beginning of August.
For the rest of the 2015 season, Smith would split his time between the Advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays, and AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats. When the season ended, he would total a 4-2 record, with 57-strikeouts, and a 2.05 earned run average. Certainly good enough to return to the Blue Jays organization the following year.
Smith began the 2016 season with the New Hampshire. Late in the season, his performance was good enough to earn a late-season promotion to the Buffalo Bisons. When the season ended, his record stood at 1 wins and 3 losses. However, his 15-saves, 76-strikeouts and 1.93 earned run average were impressive.
Smith will begin this season with the Bisons in Triple-A. If he continues to improve and develop the way that the Blue Jays are hoping, he could find himself with the big club before long. Even temporarily to compensate for injuries. There is no question that management will be following his progress very closely.