The Rockies have agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Riley Smith, reports Robert Murray of FanSided (Twitter link). Smith had been released by the division-rival Diamondbacks last month. He’ll report to the Rox’s top affiliate in Albuquerque.
A former 24th-round selection, Smith posted excellent minor league numbers up through Double-A. He struggled in his first crack at Triple-A Reno late in 2019, but the D-Backs nevertheless brought him to the big leagues during the shortened 2020 season. He had a fairly promising debut effort in limited time, working to a 1.47 ERA with slightly better than average strikeout, walk and ground-ball numbers (albeit with a very low swinging strike rate). Smith worked out of the bullpen for all six of his appearances, but he soaked up multiple innings during five of those outings and tallied 18 1/3 frames altogether.
That initial success earned the LSU product a longer look last season, but he couldn’t replicate the results. Smith again served primarily as a long relief option, although he did start six of his 24 appearances. Across 67 1/3 innings, he managed only a 6.01 ERA. Smith rarely handed out free passes, but his grounder rate took a small step back relative to the prior season. More concerning, his strikeout percentage plummeted from 25.7% to 12%. The D-Backs optioned Smith to Triple-A Reno in early August, and he was hit hard across four starts. Outrighted off the 40-man roster at the start of the offseason, he was released before suiting up with the Aces this year.
Smith will try to right the ship in his new environment. His overall MLB track record hasn’t been great to this point, but the 27-year-old has been a fantastic strike-thrower throughout his professional career. He paired that control with plenty of grounders to keep runs off the board against lower-level hitters. He’ll add a non-roster swing option to the upper minors in the Colorado farm system.