Name Delvin Smeltzer
Selection: 5th round, 161st pick
School: San Jacinto College
Top 200 Ranking: 169th
What he’s good at right now
Smeltzer was also a Perfect Game All American in 2014, and the pitcher he was then is largely the pitcher he is now. Smeltzer can throw four pitches, with the change-up flashing plus. Smeltzer’s fastball is generally in the upper 80s with heavy run, and his slider is his best breaking ball, but often has a slurve shape. Smeltzer has posted excellent strikeout numbers and has proven durable despite a thin build.
What he can be good at in the future
Smeltzer has been reaching the low 90s on occasion this year and might have enough projection in his frame to add a tick or two to the average on his fastball. If Smeltzer ends up in the bullpen, he would profile as an above average lefty specialist.
What does he need to work on
To remain a starter, Smeltzer will have to improve his already good command, as his velocity is already fringy for the rotation. Smeltzer must also refine his slider to be a pitch to work to both right and left handers.
Smeltzer’s only plus pitch is his changeup, thrown with serious fade and arm speed. The change gives him a weapon against right handers, which will hold off a move to the bullpen for the time being.
Smeltzer needs his above average command, because his velocity is fringe to fringe average for the pro game. This won’t be a problem as a specialist, but for the rotation it could become an issue.
A polished JuCo guy, Smeltzer should breeze through the low minors. He’s pitched a lot down the stretch to the World Series, so he might spend the rest of the season in the Ogden and Great Lakes bullpens. As a reliever, he could reach the majors as early as 2018, though starting might require more time and patience.
Realistic best case scenario
Smeltzer has the ability to become a useful fourth or fifth starter that has enough funk to work smoothly twice through the order. In relief, Smeltzer could become a strikeout lefty specialist in the mold of Paco Rodriguez (better delivery but similar pitch life).
The Dodgers took Smeltzer two rounds before I did in my mock draft, though to be fair to the Dodgers, the tough sign high schoolers are taken in my draft while they push players like Smeltzer up the board in reality. I love Smeltzer’s pitchability and compete level, as he’s unafraid to attack hitters in the zone with all of his pitches.
Though the velocity isn’t where you want it, he makes up for it with command and movement, and I have some belief that he can succeed as a starter in the pro game. The floor is still fairly high as a lefty specialist, and the upside isn’t tremendous, but you have to feel good about having a competitor like this in your organization.