DUNEDIN, FL — Matthew Smoral may be young, tall, and athletic, but he plans on getting ahead with intelligence, along with his brawn.
Smoral wants nothing more than to continue to hone his craft against some of the Blue Jays top prospects by focusing on the educational side of baseball.
It’s awesome to be around guys with a lot of talent and great instruction,” said the towering 6’8, left-hander.
Smoral, 18, is gigantic in both stature and play. His potential is immense, according to MLB.com, which ranks the Ohio native No. 8 among Jays’ prospects.
The left-hander consistently hits the radar gun with a 91 to 92 mph fastball, and also features a slow 70 mph curve that can puzzle batters. The force that Smoral puts into his pitches is the reason he’s so highly regarded in Toronto.
Smoral has yet to make his minor-league debut, but has the goods to deliver with every pitch in his repertoire.
The towering hurler fancies himself a student of the game and his eagerness to learn is a key component in Jays inviting him to their minor-league camp this early.
Down to earth
Smoral is down to earth and has not let the awe of being in training camp get to his head.
“I’m just going to work as hard as I can and just try and soak up as much information as I can to get there,” he said.
Smoral does not want to get by on physical attributes alone. Instead, he is choosing focus on paying attention, and working hard.
Of course, the fact that Smoral towers over most of his teammates cannot be avoided.
“They give me a few jokes here and [there],” he said with a smile, “but at the same time I think a lot of people would like to be tall because it does give you a bit of an advantage when it comes to pitching.”
A slight advantage that has gotten him an immense amount of attention.
His height and pitching ability have drawn obvious comparisons to San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, a player he shares the same agent with.
“Bumgarner is one of my favourite players to watch” Smoral said. “I like having a couple guys in the big leagues who kinda have similar arm action, similar arm angles and stuff to compare to. Ultimately that’s where you’d want to be so it’s great to try and learn from them.”
Smoral sees himself in the Jays’ starting rotation within five years, a tall order but one that’s attainable if he continues his strong work ethic.