This season, both Nate Smith and Troy Scribner have been integral parts of the Angels AAA affiliate, Salt Lake City, but they weren’t called up in September to pitch. Nate Smith came down with a case of elbow tendinitis, while Scribner was never called up (possibly because he threw the most innings of his career this year).
Nate Smith was expected to contribute to the team this season, and in July I expected both to be in the rotation next year. Both are cheap, controllable arms that don’t have eye-popping skills or pitches, priding themselves on pitch control and the initiation of soft contact. In fact, both have put up serviceable statistics this year:
Smith: 4.61 ERA, 4.61 FIP in 150.1 innings pitched; .323 BABIP, 1.40 WHIP, and a very low 2.63 BB/9.
Scribner (as a starter): 3.16 ERA (with an FIP over 4) in 128 innings; .240 BABIP, 1.12 WHIP. Not bad for a guy in his first season in AAA.
Matt Shoemaker was another guy who never posted terrific statistics in the minor leagues but went on to become pretty successful at the big league level, and I hope Nate Smith and Troy Scribner can come close to Shoemaker’s 2015 season and make progress every year.
But they may not get that opportunity.
Thanks to the recovery of Garrett Richards (and thank goodness for that), we have 4 definite starting pitchers in the rotation: Richards, Shoemaker, Skaggs, and Nolasco. Mike Scioscia has stated that players would have to “earn” the fifth spot in spring training, which leaves the possibility to Alex Meyer, Nate Smith, Troy Scribner, or an offseason addition. There are simply not enough starting spots to go around for every qualified candidate.
I may be in the minority, but I feel that Nate Smith and Troy Scribner can both be more than just “organizational depth”. Though they are crucial to overcome injuries to starting pitchers during the season (and they could be called up as long relievers), they should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential in an Angels uniform.
What do you think? Are Smith and Scribner nothing but organizational depth or will they contribute to the club this year? Do they deserve rotation spots? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.