2013 was supposed to be the year the young arms in the Phillies farm system arrived in AAA. It was supposed to be a sneak peak into the Phillies future. But things never seem to go as planned. With Jonathan Pettibone and Tyler Cloyd being summoned to Philadelphia and Adam Morgan going on the DL, the young and promising starting rotation for the 2013 Ironpigs was suddenly in need of replacements. It was with little fanfare that the Philadelphia Phillies signed left-handed pitcher Greg Smith to a free agent contract on May 6, 2013. Smith had been signed by the Toronto Blue Jays in December but he never pitched in a major league or minor league game for them.
Nobody knew what to expect from the 29 year old left hander, in fact, nobody knew anything about this Greg Smith guy. He was a 5th round draft pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2005 out of LSU and made it to the major leagues 3 years later. His 8-18 career record didn’t open any eyes but the Phillies needed arms to fill a minor league pitching staff and Greg Smith was a pitcher looking for a job.
When Greg Smith was a senior in high school, he allowed just 1 earned run in 60 innings pitched. His 9-0 record and 0.12 ERA earned him the title “Mr. Baseball” in the state of Louisiana for the 2002 season. He became a standout pitcher at LSU and in 2005 became a team ace. He won 10 games for the Tigers that year and won 7 of his last 8 starts. During that stretch he threw 28.2 consecutive scoreless innings. He was the first LSU pitcher to throw back to back shutouts since Ben McDonald did it in 1989 (McDonald went on to be the overall 1st pick in the 1989 draft). Smith made the All Southeast Conference 1st Team in 2005 and was a 3rd Team All-American.
Although he had always been a starter, when he arrived with the Ironpigs, it wasn’t immediately clear if he was going to be a starter or a middle innings guy in the bullpen. He also spent some time as a starter at Reading before settling in with the Ironpigs. Although he was just 1-1 with a 5.29 ERA as a relief pitcher, Greg Smith has now made 11 starts for the Ironpigs and is 7-1 with a 1.68 ERA in those 11 starts. Factor in his relief appearances and his record with the Ironpigs is 8-2 2.43. He has walked just 9 batters in over 64 innings as a starter and has allowed just 3 home runs. His only loss came August 5 at Charlotte when he allowed 5 earned runs in just 3.1 innings. It has been his only start in which he allowed more than 2 earned runs.
With Ethan Martin now pitching for the Phillies I think it’s safe to say that Greg Smith has become the ace of the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs pitching staff. Not too shabby for a guy nobody heard of when he was signed back on May 6. At a time of the season when every game is important, Greg Smith has been a godsend.