Minor League Prospect Note: Burch Smith, RHP, San Diego Padres
If you like K/BB ratio, you'll like San Diego Padres pitching prospect Burch Smith. Playing this year for the Lake Elsinore Storm in the High-A California League, Smith has posted a 134/27 K/BB ratio in 124 innings, allowing 123 hits and 11 homers for an even 4.00 ERA. His FIP is considerably better than his ERA at 3.04. I've received several requests for a look at Burch, so here it is.
Burch Smith is a 6-4, 215 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born April 12, 1990 in Tyler, Texas. He pitched two years for Howard Junior College and was successful enough to be drafted twice, then he transferred to the University of Oklahoma for 2011.
He pitched well for the Sooners (10-4, 3.90 in 16 starts, with a 90/32 K/BB in 88 innings, 85 hits), but was lost in the scouting shuffle amidst all the high school pitching in Oklahoma last year. Although considered a fourth or fifth round talent, he dropped to the 14th round. He signed with the Padres for $250,000, then pitched two innings in the Arizona Rookie League for a brief tuneup.
As mentioned above, he's pitched well this summer in the Cal League, showing sharp control in particular. He's sagged a bit in August, giving up 31 hits in his last 19 innings and reportedly looking somewhat tired. At full strength, Smith works at 89-93 MPH, topping out at 94-95 with a three-quarters delivery. He's athletic and it is possible he may gain additional velocity as he matures. He has a full arsenal with a curveball, slider, and changeup. While none are outstanding, all project as useable major league pitches. Smith's biggest problem is a tendency to miss high in the strike zone if his command is off. He is a fly ball pitcher and can be gopher-vulnerable on bad days.
Overall, I like him and would give him a Grade B-. I think he can be a mid-rotation starter if everything maxes out, although being a four/five or a relief option is more likely.