Josh Smith scratched and clawed his way to the Major Leagues.
Smith was an underdog at the start of spring training. He was not on the Reds' 40-man roster and not invited to Major League spring training. He didn't even pitch as a extra player in a Cactus League game.
The 27-year old from Margate, Florida, near Boca Raton was taken in the 21st round of the 2010 draft out of Lipscomb University.
Smith has been a successful starter in the Reds' organization. He pitched in 19 games in relief in the short summer season following the June draft but emerged as a starter in 2011 at Dayton.
The 6'2" right-hander was 14-7 in 26 starts for Dayton. He was promoted to Bakersfield the next season and was 9-8 with a 3.80 ERA in 27 starts. Smith advanced to Pensacola in 2013 where he was 11-9 with a 3.26 ERA. He was 10-7 at his next stop in Louisville last season where he made 24 starts with a 4.70 ERA.
His walks per nine innings was a little high last season at 3.73
The Reds youth movement started early in what has been a lost first half of a season.
The overwhelming sentiment is that one or all of the trio consisting of Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman will be traded for younger, cheaper players rather than pay the high salaries that their performance dictates in the open market.
While that remains to be seen, the Reds began the season with rookie Anthony DeSclafani in the starting rotation. The Reds parted ways with veteran Jason Marquis six weeks into the season and promoted Michael Lorenzen. They started Cuban rookie Raisell Iglesias and Jon Moscot both of whom were injured giving Smith a shot at the rotation. The have second-year pitcher Tony Cingrani, who was switched to the bullpen but the plan is to stretch him out to possibly return to the rotation, if not long relief work.
"We started to go to the younger pitchers in our organization sooner that we expected," Bryan Price said.
It has been a rough start for Smith. In his first two starts, Smith walked 10 batters in eight innings, including six in his debut which lasted just three innings. On Saturday he hit four Milwaukee Brewer batters that tied a team record that stood 108 years, since Jake Weimer plunked four New York Giants' batters in 1907.
Smith heeded the managers advice in the first four innings last night but he hit two batters in a row in the second. A double play took him off the hook. He hit another batter in the third and plunked Carlos Gomez to help fuel a six-run rally for the Brewers.
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"I tried to pitch inside and the ball got away from me," Smith said. "Until then I was attacking the strike zone and had more first-pitch strikes."