Smith untouchable in Class A debut

Royals prospect hurls six hitless innings for Kane County

Kyle Smith retired the final 16 batters he faced Sunday. (Paul R. Gierhart/

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | June 24, 2012 3:59 PM ET

It's been a hectic few days for frequent traveler Kyle Smith. At this time last week, he was in Arizona. Then he made his way 900 miles north to spend all of 48 hours in Idaho. Now he's some 1,300 miles east in Iowa.

He's apparently no worse for wear.

The Royals prospect pitched six hitless innings in his Midwest League debut Sunday afternoon as the Class A Kane County Cougars edged the Clinton LumberKings, 4-3.

Smith faced one batter over the minimum in his second outing since the Royals selected him in the fourth round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He retired his final 16 batters before turning over a 3-0 lead -- and a no-hitter -- to his bullpen.

"I didn't realize until after I had come out of the game and I was talking with people and looked up at the scoreboard," Smith said of the no-no. "I looked up to see the counts, but then I would focus on each pitch. I would have liked to stay in the game, but the coaches had a game plan.

"The last time I threw a no-hitter was my last year in high school in my first district game against Atlantic Community High School."

The only LumberKing to reach base against Smith was Nathan Melendres, who drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the first but was promptly erased when Ji-Man Choi lined into an inning-ending double play.

The 19-year-old right-hander struck out six batters and induced four ground-ball outs.

"I would say I got locked in after the third inning," he said. "I was throwing my fastball to both sides of the plate and establishing dominance with my fastball, which allowed me to use my other pitches.

"I throw a fastball, a breaking ball and a change. My curveball is one of my better pitches, maybe average to above-average. The changeup is still a work-in-progress."

Smith started the season in extended spring training in Arizona, then reported to Rookie-level Idaho Falls at the beginning of the week. In his pro debut on Tuesday, he struck out 11 and gave up one run on three hits over five innings. Then he joined his team in Clinton for the three-game series with LumberKings.

"I got to Clinton on Thursday night. It's a big jump, but I want to continue establishing the fastball as a weapon and throwing the breaking ball for strikes," Smith said.

"I have confidence throwing all of my pitches, now I just need to throw them more consistently. I want to be able to set up the breaking ball by throwing the fastball to both sides of the plate."

So far, the Florida native has had little difficulty making the transition from high school ball to the pros.

"I would say this is even more surreal than my first game. I had a good feel for my pitches in Idaho, but to move up and get six no-hit innings against these good hitters is surreal," said Smith, who turned down an opportunity to play baseball at the University of Florida.

"I was just trying to help my team get the 'W' and keep them close. It just happened to be with no hits. The University of Florida is a great school and I would have learned a lot there, but there is also a lot to learn about pro ball."

Jason Mitchell (2-4) allowed three runs on four hits over three innings, depriving Smith of the chance to record the win.

Kane County's Julio Aparicio, who delivered a two-run single in the sixth, homered to snap a 3-3 tie in the ninth.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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