The Dodgers are in a converting mode in 2013, and their latest project is Blake Smith. The 2009 second-round draft pick out of Cal was transferred from Double-A Chattanooga to Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday, and the former outfielder will switch to the mound, as a right-handed pitcher.
Smith was hitting .233/.311/.375 with six home runs and 14 doubles in 75 games in his second year in Double-A.
“We knew Blake was a reliever as well coming out of college, so we talked about this possibility during spring training and that we’d give it until the All-Star break," said Dodgers vice president, player development DeJon Watson. "At this time we feel that pitching is the best way to accelerate his path the majors.”
He was a two-way player in college at Cal. Smith was ranked as the Dodgers' No. 32 prospect heading into the 2013 season by Brandon Lennox:
The fact that he was a pitcher in college could eventually come into play because the Dodgers have at least discussed moving him to the mound if he doesn’t work out as an outfielder, and that increases his prospect value a bit.
Smith, 25, is the third player converted by the Dodgers this season. Aaron Miller, the Dodgers' first pick in the 2009 draft (No. 36 overall), was converted from the mound to the outfield in May. Miller, 25, is hitting .205/.276/.397 with three home runs and four doubles with Class-A Great Lakes.
Pedro Baez, also 25 years old, made the switch from third base to the mound during the offseason after six years of hitting .247/.308/.391 and never advancing past Double-A. Baez is 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA in 31 games with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga this season, with 29 strikeouts and 14 walks in 33⅔ innings.