ShareThis Page

Pirates acquire former top prospect Josh Smoker from Mets to boost bullpen

Jerry DiPaola
| Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, 2:15 p.m.
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 29:  Josh Smoker #49 of the New York Mets pitches in the fifth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 29, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated New York 14-4.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Getty Images
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 29: Josh Smoker #49 of the New York Mets pitches in the fifth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 29, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated New York 14-4. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Josh Smoker, the most recent addition to the Pirates bullpen, was once one of baseball's top prospects. But that was 10 years ago.

Now, Smoker, 29, is a relief pitcher hoping to resurrect his career after the New York Mets designated him for assignment Friday and traded him to the Pirates on Wednesday for minor league pitcher Daniel Zamora and cash considerations.

When the Washington Nationals drafted Smoker in the first round (31st overall) in 2007, he was MLB's 11th-best pitching prospect and a player who had no peer in Georgia. He was a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in that state and compiled an overall 25-0 record in his senior and sophomore years at Calhoun High School where he also was a race car driver, a passion he gave up to concentrate on baseball.

While leading Calhoun to a state championship as a sophomore, he was 12-0 with a insanely low 0.09 earned run average. The next year, he was chosen for the Aflac All-American Game before recording a 13-0 record and 1.24 ERA as a senior.

Smoker, 6-foot-2, 246 pounds, didn't reach the majors until August 2016, after the Mets purchased his contract from Rockford of the Independent Frontier League before the previous season. As a rookie, he recorded a 3-0 record with a 4.70 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 20 relief appearances.

Last season, Smoker was 1-2 with a 5.11 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 56 13 innings. After earning a spot on the Mets opening day roster, he was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas on May 9. He returned two weeks later but was put on the disabled list June 14. Finally with the big club for good, he recorded a 2.63 ERA in 32 games, including allowing just two earned runs in his final 18 23 innings.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me