North Augusta's Jake Smith, a former Augusta GreenJacket, was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.
Smith was designated for assignment at the end of June to make room for infielder Grant Green. The move took Smith off the 40-man roster and put him on outright waivers.
It's been a major U-turn for Smith after a strong 2015 season. The right-handed reliever had a 2.35 ERA with 118 strikeouts to 21 walks in 84.1 innings for Class-A Advanced San Jose last year, earning him a spot on the Giants 40-man roster. The implementation of a cutter to go with a running fastball that could hit mid-90s and a slider allowed him to contend for top strikeout percentage in pro baseball.
The Double-A jump has not been kind to Smith, however, as he posted a 7.08 ERA with 26 strikeouts to 23 walks in 20.1 innings for Richmond before being designated for assignment. The strikeouts are still there, but walks have become a major issue after he limited them in the past.
At 26, Smith needs to get back on track soon to reach the majors. Being in the Padres system could give him that opportunity. Those within the Giants organization I spoke to echoed those thoughts. Smith is a good teammate and hard worker who burst on the scene with Augusta in 2014 after getting drafted in the 48th round in 2011. He was discovered while working on Augusta's grounds crew, as I wrote at the time.