Jordan Smith was one of the best pitchers in Western Carolina Catamounts history. Smith was a weekend starter from the moment he stepped on campus all the way through his senior season. He finished his career as the program leader in starts with 59 and innings pitched with 374.2 and a career record of 25-20. However, it was not enough to get him drafted following his senior year in 2014.
"I thought my baseball career was over," said Smith. "That was devastating but I stayed hopeful and waited for a call."
He didn't have to wait long as a week after the draft the San Francisco Giants called but then didn't call again. After that initial phone call a two-month window went by and Smith didn't heard from any major league club so Smith was thinking it was time to put his back up plan in motion.
"I still had another semester left in college so I was just going to do that and then start job searching," explained Smith.
That is when things started to be put into motion. The New York Mets and Kansas City Royals both showed interest and Smith who had been staying in shape all summer threw for both teams. Then the call came from Detroit.
"I was out with the family one Sunday," says Smith. "And I got a call from my college coach and he said the Detroit Tigers want to sign you right now and I was like sweet. Within five minutes they gave me a call so that is how that happened."
The Tigers were the only team to extend an offer and without much hesitation Smith signed on the dotted line. Once he signed it was off to the Gulf Coast Tigers and Rookie League for the final few weeks of the season. Smith had a successful beginning to his career as he pitched in four games and didn't allow a run across eight and a third innings of work. He also picked up two saves.
There was one difference though. In college Smith had been a starter and now he was transitioning into becoming a reliever.
"Just not knowing when you are going to pitch (is the biggest difference) and going in with runners on base already," said Smith. "That was something that I had to get used to and it took a little while. It was an easier transition (overall) then I thought it would be."
This year Smith has spent his entire season with the Connecticut Tigers and for the first time, as a professional has been able to go through a season uninterrupted.
"It is nice to have a full season ahead and not just a couple weeks," Smith says. "You can really show them what you have so having a full season has made it a lot better then going in with just a few weeks left like last year."
That first full professional season has been a good one for Smith. In 14 games thus far he has posted a 2.53 ERA to go along with three saves and a 1-1 record.
"I have grown a lot (this year). Carlos (Chantress) our pitching coach has helped me out a lot just by talking with him and helping me out with certain mechanic's and has helped me change my approach as to how I go into a game," explains Smith.
The growth has been evident. After going undrafted last year Smith, now in his second calendar year of professional baseball is proving to those in the Detroit organization and the league that he belongs.
The Connecticut Tigers are the New York-Penn League affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and play a 76 game schedule that runs from mid June through early September. 2015 season tickets, group tickets, mini plans, individual game tickets, and team merchandise are now on sale! The front office and ticket office is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be accessed in person or by calling 860-887-7962.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.