Former Northgate pitcher Smith 2-1 in rookie league

By TONY JONES The Times Herald Will Smith is doing just fine. The former Northgate pitcher, who was drafted in the seventh round by the Anaheim Angels in June, has found the professional ranks of baseball much to his liking. Smith is currently assigned to the Orem (UT) Owlz of the Rookie Pioneer League.
The 6'5", 215-pound lefty is 2-1 in six total appearances. He has started four games and has an unearned average of 2.70 Smith, who just turned 19 on Thursday, has struck out 25 in 24 innings pitched. He has given up 23 hits while yielding only three walks. His first outing was a two-inning relief effort against Ogden. He gave up four hits in two innings. Smith talked about his first time on the mound. "I was so nervous, I could barely breathe. I was sweating and giving up hits and bloops. I was asking myself if I could pitch in this league." He's made great strides since. Opponents are hitting .268 against the fireballing hurler. His two wins have come during the day and he is 1-1 at home and 1-0 on the road. Orem is located in between Salt Lake and Provo. Smith discussed the change in scenery. "I'm a kid that is accustomed to seeing Newnan, GA. Here it reaches 97 on the field, yet the mountains are still capped with snow. It's very inspiring," explained Smith. Smith last took the mound on Saturday night against Billings, MT. His father Charles was in the stands to support his son that has been on a pitch count that recently has been stretched to 60. "When I arrived here I was only at 40. They try to give those of us who played in college some rest because we've had no break," stated Smith, who went 6-6 this year pitching for Gulf Coast Community College. Smith is staying with a host family in Provo. One of his roommates is former McIntosh High School OF/P Trevor Pittman. "They call us the 'Georgia Boys.' Trevor is a couple of years older and has been showing me the ropes." Smith is depending on his lively fastball and his dependable curve. "I call Greg Hamilton (Northgate coach) after every start and he still makes fun of me for not having a changeup. But he's been very good at giving advice," said Smith. The former Viking has been attempting to adjust to the altitude. "When I got here, I was in semi-good shape. The first time I was told to run to the foul pole I was out of breath. I've now been here a month and I can run 30 minutes without stopping. That part of my game has vastly improved." Smith says he's also had to adjust to the altitude change of his curve. "My curve doesn't break as much and the ball flies further. I'm trying to pitch more inside because if you leave one down the middle of the plate here the umpire is going to be throwing you out a new ball." The pitcher was asked to describe the difference of Pioneer League hitters to those he faced in college. "The hitters in college aren't as disciplined. They would swing at curve balls in the dirt. But these guys are proven hitters with quick hands. It can be scary," admitted Smith.


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