Burch Smith is 27, a bit older than the typical rule 5 draft choice. He had TJS in 2015 and just returned to action this season. He already made his big league debut back in 2014 and was competing for a rotation spot in 2015 when he was injured. Smith pitched 56 innings, mostly at AA and AAA this season. He was a starter for all but one of those outings and was gradually stretched out. His last 5 starts were all 5+ innings. Then he went to the AFL and pitched another 20 innings, and had the best K/9 of all the pitchers there who predominately started.
Smith is a tall (6’4″) slender righty with a slightly violent, but repeatable delivery. He uses his lower half aggressively and has a whippy arm action that adds deception.
I watched video of his final 3 starts of the season and I was shocked this guy was unprotected. He flashed 4 above average pitches or better pitches. The quality of the stuff was very inconsistent (all pitches also showed below average at times) but that’s to be expected coming off 2 years of no pitching. The fastball ranged from 88-96, usually sitting 90-93 with armside run and explosive life when located in the top of the zone for whiffs (which he did well). He has a sharp 1 to 7 hammer of a curve, that comes and goes (one game he didn’t have it at all) but when it’s on, oh boy. Smith has two change-ups, one that is straight and he throws with great arm speed (I like this one better). He also has another change (split change maybe) that has drop and armside tumble, it looks like hitters can see this out of his hand sometimes, but it does have plus movement.
He loses his release point at times, but is generally in the zone, very aggressive with hitters (sometimes to his detriment). He does a nice job of commanding his pitches up and down, but it’s average command overall.
Why was he left unprotected
He’s coming off injury and he loses his stuff after about 40 pitches at this point. He’s 27 years old.
Why the Orioles should pick him
He’s got big league stuff, and a starter’s repertoire, even if it’s not a starter’s delivery. If he can hold his stuff better, he’s Ynoa with much better secondaries. He could compete for the 5th rotation spot and if he doesn’t win it, he’d be a useful bullpen piece.