Early Friday morning, the Milwaukee Brewers announced they have signed righty reliever Burch Smith to a minor league contract.
Smith will get an invite to major league spring training. The Milwaukee Brewers pride themselves on having enough depth to cover for an entire season, and that’s exactly the purpose that Smith fills.
However, Smith will face long odds to make the Brewers bullpen on Opening Day, and is pretty far down the depth chart of options at this point. But that can change with a big spring training.
Smith By The Numbers
When I first took a look at Burch Smith’s stats, my first reaction was “Yikes!”. Last season, between the Royals bullpen and rotation, Smith posted a 6.92 ERA and 1.667 WHIP in 44 appearances covering 78 innings of work. He allowed 15 home runs through the season.
Smith also had allowed 4.6 BB/9 and struck out hitters at a 8.9 K/9 rate.
In his only previous stint in the big leagues, Smith was with the Padres in 2013, posting a 6.44 ERA with them in 36.1 innings. For his career, baseball reference has Smith worth -1.9 WAR.
Smith was a Rule 5 pick for the 2018 season for the Royals, which is why they stuck with him all season despite his struggles, only to let him hit free agency at the end of season.
Tommy John surgery took away Smith’s 2015-16 seasons. He’s put up some good numbers in the minor leagues, posting a 2.40 ERA in 2017 between High-A and Triple-A for Tampa Bay.
His fastball can regularly sit between 94-96 MPH, and he has a pretty good curveball to go with it, dropping it around 78 MPH.
Smith is a fly ball pitcher, which isn’t exactly a positive when it comes to pitching in Miller Park, and for his career he has a 16.9% HR/FB ratio.
But he does bring some more great hair to this bullpen.
Predictions for Smith
The fans in San Antonio are going to be the ones that see Burch Smith the most this season. I don’t see Smith as having much of a chance of making this roster, let alone being a regular contributor to it. He’s currently not even on the 40 man roster.
He’s depth if necessary, but there are plenty of other depth options ahead of him. He’s only going to be 29 years old in April, but he’s more of a AAAA pitcher than a regular major league contributor out of a bullpen.
The Milwaukee Brewers may not need any more major league arms for their bullpen at this point, but there are still a few moves to make to add to this roster.