Prospect On Deck: Giants’ Jake Smith’s Unique Baseball Journey
It seems like a story made for the big screen: former groundskeeper turned pitching prospect is now making his way toward a Major League career. But, for the San Francisco’s Giants’ Jake Smith, it’s reality and a dream come true!
It all started in 2009 when the, now twenty-five year old, was offered a volunteer position with the grounds crew of the Giants’ Single-A Affiliate Augusta while he was attending Darton State College. Smith was encouraged to take the position, although he wasn’t receiving pay, by his then coach Augie Rodriguez who also worked for Augusta as part of the grounds crew staff.
While working with Augusta, Rodriguez set up an opportunity for Jake Smith to pitch in front of the affiliate’s pitching coach Steve Kline. Although the Giants were impressed with what they saw out of Smith and offered to sign him to a short-term deal, he wasn’t ready to give up on his collegiate career just yet.
The young righty transferred to Campbell University to continue his college career and then a few years later in the 48th round of the 2011 MLB Draft the San Francisco Giants drafted him, Smith’s baseball dream now looked like it was becoming more of a reality.
His first season of pro ball was in 2012 with the Arizona Rookie League where he made six relief appearances, striking out 13 batters in 8.2 innings. In 2013 he played with the Short Season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes where he made nineteen appearances including four starts where he maintained a 3.61 ERA along with a 2-2 record. He continued his journey through the Giants’ organization, and in 2015 had his best season of pro ball yet.
With the Class-A Advanced San Jose Giants, Smith made fifty six relief appearances with a 2.35 ERA; striking out an impressive 118 batters in 84.1 innings and holding opposing hitters to just a .172 batting average.
Smith is currently turning heads in Giants’ camp in Arizona and at the start of the 2016, Jake Smith is likely to receive his next promotion to Double-A Richmond where he will see a familiar face in pitching coach Steve Kline.