Locals In the Pros

Smith shines for Royals in relief win

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Newnan native and former Northgate High left-handed ace Will Smith posted a career-high eight strikeouts in just 4 1/3 innings of relief while picking up a win on Monday for the Kansas City Royals.

Will Smith may not spend as much time in the major leagues as he did as a rookie. But the Coweta County native continued to prove this week that his second year in the pros has been even more successful than the first.

The Kansas City Royals lefthander posted a career-high eight strikeouts over the final 4 1 /3 innings during a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners while lowering his season ERA to 2.57 over 12 appearances.

Smith returned to Kansas City in early August to replace Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar on paternity leave following a strong year at Triple-A Omaha and is expected to stay through the close of the 2013 season as the major leagues expand to 40-man rosters.

'It's a nice luxury to have,' Yost said of Smith. 'It's kind of not fair to him, he gets to come up, do well and go back down, but it's nice to have that comfort level knowing that when these things arise, you have someone to plug into the puzzle to help you out. I have confidence in Will and he has done a great job every time he's come up.'

Transitioning to a relief role this season after making 16 starts as a rookie last season with Kansas City and finishing 6-9 with a 5.32 ERA, the former Northgate High ace has been superb out of the bullpen at both levels.

'Will was phenomenal, outstanding, great,' Royals manager Ned Yost told the Associated Press following Monday's win. 'Man, what a job he did. It was evident from some of the swings they were taking they just had a real hard time picking up the ball. His pitches had action, deception and location.' Five of Smith's strikeouts on Monday took only three pitches. Kyle Seager, who had three of the Mariners' seven hits, doubled off Smith with two out in the seventh, but it was a fly ball that center fielder Jarrod Dyson lost in the sun.

'The slider was working and the curveball, too,' Smith said.

'It's one of those days where everything was clicking. I just kept putting zeros up.'

Smith also earned his second victory in the performance to up his record to 2-1 with 35 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched. He made one start for the Royals on April 28 and has since been able to steadily lower a 9.00 ERA while allowing four earned runs over his next 24 innings pitched.

He allowed just one run over five appearances in August, coming on a home run by Detroit's Prince Fielder. Otherwise, Smith has been nearly unhittable, posting 20 strikeouts over his last six outings comprising a span of 11 2 / 3 innings work with just three walks allowed.

Smith's numbers at Omaha were also an improvement over 2012, posting a 6-4 record and a 3.03 ERA in 28 appearances, the first 10 of which were starts.

In all, Smith went back and forth between Kansas City and Omaha seven times this season. 'You're just excited to be back,' Smith said. 'You can't complain about coming back to the big leagues, it doesn't matter how many times it is. You're ready to get in the car and go.'

While some minor league seasons have come to a close, other Coweta County players are finishing up strong elsewhere.

BRYAN BLOUGH: The former East Coweta ace closed the season with the Winston-Salem Dash with two wins in his last three starts while firing 16 scoreless innings to end the year.

Blough pitched a completegame shutout against Myrtle Beach in the Class A Carolina League and then went seven scoreless innings in his season finale on Sunday against Wilmington despite being tagged for a loss on an unearned run.

The 6-1, 190-pound righthander went 11-11 with a 3.81 ERA in a team-high 172 2 /3 innings during the 2013 season, but gave up just two earned runs in his final 28. Blough did not allow more than three runs over his final seven appearances.

CAMBEDROSIAN: Transitioning to a role of a reliever this season, the former East Coweta ace is closing out the season with the Inland Empire 66ers, the Class A Advanced affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim after appearing in 37 games with the Burlington Bees in Class A.

Bedrosian made two starts with Burlington before shifting to the bullpen and posting seven saves to go with 69 strikeouts in 54 1 /3 innings.

He's yet to allow a run in his first seven appearances with the 66ers, posting nine strikeouts in his first 8 2/3 innings with seven walks.

JESSE WIERZBICKI:

Called up to Houston's Class A Advanced affiliate in Lancaster, Calif., the former Newnan High and University of North Carolina standout has posted a .245 average with two homers and 9 RBIs in his first 25 games with the Lancaster Jethawks.

Lancaster and Bedrosian's Inland lineup recently played a three-game series in mid-August.

Wierzbicki had been elevated from Class A Quad City after posting a .264 average with six homers and 54 RBIs in his first 87 games this season.

CONNER KENDRICK:

Northgate High's former lefthanded ace recently celebrated his 21st birthday last month by pitching 3 ? innings of relief for the Staten Island Yankees in the Class A Short-Season New York-Penn League on Aug. 18.

Kendrick has posted a 1-2 record and a 2.87 ERA over his last 10 appearances, the last four of which have been starts.

On Monday, he allowed a run on two hits in three-innings work against Vermont.

He signed with the New York Yankees in June after being selected in the ninth round of this year's MLB Draft out of Auburn.



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