Thursday, September 8, 2016

Getting to Know Astros LHP Ben Smith

The headline reads Astros playing long game with rehabbing Draftee Smith. But no one realized how long it would take for 2014 17th round draft pick LHP Ben Smith to finally make it back to the mound. After a year of rehab, Smith was assigned to the rookie league Greeneville team in June 2015, but he never made a start that season. Shortly after arriving in Tennessee, Smith was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma. One day shy of two years from the day he signed with the Astros in 2014, he pitched his first professional inning for Tri-City in the New York-Penn League on June 18, 2016.

Ben Smith - August 2016
Photo by Jayne Hansen

Of Smith, Greeneville Pitching Coach Bill Murphy told me, "He's a competitor. He's got good stuff. He has a tremendous focus and relentless effort to get better every single day. People like that are going to be successful. He's a very special person." Murphy went on to talk about Smith's calm demeanor and down-to-earth personality, traits that were very evident in my conversation with him last week in Greeneville.

Smith told me that seeing the doctor who had diagnosed him with Burkitt lymphoma in the stands for one of his outings this summer was probably the most memorable experience of his summer.

Smith was once regarded as a highly-ranked prospect. Now that he has his feet back under him, look for him to work his way back on to some of those prospect lists. After all he's been through, I wouldn't bet against him.

Thank you for your time, Ben, and best of luck to you in your career and in your life.

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