In 2004, he was one of the top high school catchers in the state of Utah. Three years later, he was on the mound, throwing fastballs past hitters at Fifth Third Field. Within three years of leaving Dayton, he became the 43rd Dragons player in the Major Leagues. He is right-handed relief pitcher Jordan Smith.
Fans who saw Smith play at Pleasant Grove High School in Utah thought he might some day become a big league catcher. In 2005 at Salt Lake Community College, he made the conversion to pitcher, showing a fastball that could reach the mid-90's. In 2006, he played at the Community College of Southern Nevada and served as his team's closer, catching the eye of Reds scout Jeff Morris. The Reds drafted Smith in the sixth round in 2006 and, despite a reported offer to play at UCLA, he chose to sign with Cincinnati.
Smith had a strong first summer of professional baseball at Billings in 2006 as a starter, going 6-3 with a 3.01 earned run average in 14 games. In 2007, he came to Dayton and helped anchor a strong starting rotation. He made 26 starts with the Dragons, just one short of the club record. He became a big contributor to a Dragons team that began the season by going 23-4 over its first 27 games.
Smith allowed one earned run or less in six of his first seven starts. On May 2 at Wisconsin, he fired six shutout innings, allowing just one hit and one walk to earn a win. Five days later at home against Kane County, he again tossed six scoreless innings, this time allowing no walks and three hits. In his next start, he allowed just one run over seven innings to lower his ERA to 2.17.
In Smith's final start of the first half with the Dragons, he threw eight shutout innings in a win over South Bend. Two starts later, he beat Fort Wayne with seven scoreless frames. By season's end, Smith had allowed one earned run or less in 12 of 26 starts, and two earned runs or less in 16 of the 26. His final record with the Dragons was 10-8 with a 3.84 ERA.
Smith moved on to Sarasota in 2008 and was 7-2 with a 2.55 ERA after 10 starts to earn a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga for the balance of the year. After the season, Baseball America ranked Smith as the 13th best prospect in the Reds organization and third best pitching prospect. The publication's Prospect Handbook noted that Smith "has a heavy 91-94 mph fastball with excellent sink…everything he throws is heavy and he induces lots of grounders."
Smith was off to a good start with Double-A Carolina in 2009, playing in the Southern League All-Star Game, before knee problems shortened his season. He went 5-3 with a 3.44 ERA. The Reds added Smith to their 40-man roster after the season.
In 2010, Smith made a move to the bullpen. He got hot in mid-June and was called up to the big leagues. He made his Major League debut with a scoreless inning against the Dodgers on June 15 and allowed only one run over his first seven relief appearances. He remained with the Reds for the rest of the season, appearing in 37 games out of the bullpen. His final record was 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA and one save.
In 2011, Smith split the season between the Reds and Triple-A Louisville. He appeared in 17 games with Cincinnati with no wins or losses and a 7.20 ERA. He pitched in 24 games with Louisville and notched seven saves with a 3.08 ERA despite an 0-4 record. Smith spent the entire 2012 season with Louisville, going 3-3 with a 4.76 ERA in 51 games out of the bullpen.
Following the 2012 season, Smith became a Minor League free agent and signed with the Miami Marlins organization. He is in the Marlins spring camp as a non-roster player.
An interesting side note to Smith's connection to the Dragons came in 2010 and again in 2011. Smith made visits to Fifth Third Field to sit in the stands and watch his brother Egan, a pitcher over two seasons with the Lansing Lugnuts, a Dragons Midwest League rival.
Smith was one of seven former Dragons to debut in the Major Leagues in 2010. Next up: Travis Wood.
Click here for Jordan Smith's Major League statistics, photos, and video highlights.
Click here for Jordan Smith's Minor League statistics.