DUNEDIN, Fla. – Matt Smoral passed on his college plans and listened to family advice.
The 20 year old attended Solon high school in Ohio and was drafted by the Blue Jays in the first round (50th overall) in 2012. He also signed a letter of intent to play at the University of North Carolina, his favourite college.
As a young pitcher, Smoral had a decision to make: sign a rookie contract with the Blue Jays or attend UNC where the academics and baseball program is top notch.
“My aunt works for the Greensboro Grasshoppers in the Miami Marlins’ organization and she has been around baseball for 20 years now, and she was defiantly a big help in that decision,” said Smoral, currently the 19th-ranked prospect in the Jays’ system.
“She knew what minor-league baseball is like and knowing the different front offices and just how they do things and she had nothing but awesome things to say about the Blue Jays and that was defiantly comforting for me.”
Smoral took his aunt’s advice very serious and also talked to some Ohio professional baseball players to decide to join the Blue Jays’ organization. Smoral wanted to continue his development and mature in an organization that emphasizes player development.
“The Blue Jays gave me an opportunity I couldn’t pass up and can’t thank them enough and it’s been great so far,” said Smoral.
Smoral started the 2014 season in Bluefield, W.Va., Toronto’s Rookie Ball team and went 2-3 with a 3.48 earned-run average in 33.2 innings pitched. He was then promoted to A (short season) team in Vancouver and went 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 20.0 innings.
“Vancouver was the highlight of my career last year,” said the six-foot-eight lefty. “I loved my time in Canada and hope to have some more in the future.”
Smoral is patient and focused on his future and wants to land a spot with the big club. He knows his play will dictate his progress, but the organization will have a final say where he goes.
“I would like to get to a full season and get out there competing, if that is Lansing that would be awesome, but I will leave that up to them and just try to focus on doing what I can in spring training to make a club.”