June 13, 2024

Cade Smith holds the No. 19 prospect ranking, securing 23% of the vote on Wednesday and narrowly edging out the competition by a margin of 10 votes.

Originally selected in the 16th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins, Smith opted not to sign and instead pursued higher education at the University of Hawaii. Despite his talents, his second shot at the MLB Draft coincided with the COVID-affected 2020 draft, limited to just five rounds, leaving him undrafted. However, Cleveland wasted no time in signing him, and he immediately left a positive impression.

His professional debut in 2021 at Single-A saw him dominate hitters with an astonishing 38.1% strikeout rate across 30 appearances, earning him a swift promotion to High-A, where he maintained his impressive form with three scoreless outings. Standing at an imposing 6-foot-5, Smith’s performance warranted a move to Double-A Akron in the 2022 season, where he further showcased his abilities. His strikeout rate reached a career-high of 42.3%, paired with an elite 1.94 FIP over 20 appearances totaling 24.0 innings.

Despite transitioning to Double-A, Smith managed to lower his ERA from 3.00 to 2.89 across 24 games and 37.1 innings, demonstrating improved control by reducing his walk rate. This progression garnered attention and recognition for Smith’s talents.

Before the start of the 2023 season, Smith had the honor of representing Team Canada in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. In his lone appearance, he faced Mets standout Pete Alonso, striking him out while throwing to fellow Guardian Bo Naylor.

Smith kicked off the 2023 season at Double-A and swiftly displayed his improved control, achieving a career-low walk rate of 9.8%. This accompanied a decrease in both his ERA to 2.86 and his FIP to 2.73, leading to a promotion to Triple-A Columbus.

During his tenure in Columbus, Smith showcased his prowess by striking out an impressive 66 batters over 40.2 innings pitched, translating to a remarkable 37.1% strikeout rate. However, he struggled with home runs, conceding 1.33 homers per nine innings, marking the first time he had surpassed 0.41 since his professional debut.

In preparation for the November 2023 Rule 5 Draft, Smith earned a spot on Cleveland’s 40-man roster.

Known for his fastball, which typically reaches the mid to upper 90s, Smith also employs a split-change, a cutter, and a slider, with the split-change standing out as his most effective secondary pitch.

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, Smith is expected to begin in Triple-A. However, with continued success in generating strikeouts and improving his command, he could potentially earn a spot in Cleveland’s bullpen at the major league level to start the year.

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