Alexander Roelof Smit
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 3", Weight 215 lb.
- High School Stolbeg High School (listed in the 2007 Twins Media Guide but google searches don't bring up any other reference to such an institution)
He won the Roel de Mon Award in 2000 and 2001. In 2001 and 2002, he was on the Dutch junior national team.
Smit was rocked in the 2002 World Junior Championship, going 0-2 with a 14.73 ERA, allowing four homers and 15 hits in 7 1/3 IP. He was one of four pitchers to tie for the lead with a 0.00 ERA in the 2002 Intercontinental Cup, though. He won one game in the 2002 Haarlem Baseball Week, allowing three runs in six innings. He won the Carl Angelo Award for the tournament that year despite the indifferent turn. He also made it to Hoofdklasse that season.
Smit was signed by scout Howard Norsetter for the Minnesota Twins in July 2002 for a $800,000 bonus. At age 17, he debuted with the 2003 GCL Twins and was 3-0 with a 1.18 ERA, striking out 40 in 38 innings while allowing a .156 opponent batting average. Baseball America rated him as the #14 prospect in the Gulf Coast League, between Jo-Jo Reyes and Matt Capps.
Smit was 1-0 with 5 walks in 5 innings and a 0.00 ERA in the 2003 European Championship.
In 2004, the left-hander was 1-1 with a 2.54 ERA for the Elizabethton Twins, whiffing 43 in 28 1/3 innings. Baseball America ranked him as the 9th-best prospect in the Appalachian League, between Brandon Yarbrough and Troy Patton. Smit struggled in the 2004 Olympics, with a 10.29 ERA, serving up three gopher balls in seven innings. Against Team Canada, he allowed two runs in six innings of relief, but he walked four and allowed two homers and six runs in one inning against the Australian national team.
Smit went 1-9 with a 5.98 ERA for the 2005 Beloit Snappers and was sent down, going 6-1 with 3 saves and a 1.97 ERA for Elizabethton that year. Opponents hit .157 against him with Elizabethton and he struck out 86 in 45 2/3 IP. He fell to #17 on the Baseball America list of Appalachian League prospects. Despite his limited workload, he led the Appy League in strikeouts, though, and he was named to the league All-Star team as the top left-handed pitcher. He was 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in four games in the 2005 Baseball World Cup, striking out 8 in 5 2/3 innings, to help the Dutch team finish 4th, the highest it had ever placed to that point.
Smit opened 2006 with the Dutch national team for the World Baseball Classic. Against the Puerto Rican national team, he relieved Rob Cordemans in the third inning with a 2-0 deficit and two outs. He got Alex Rios on a fly to right to end that frame. In the 4th, Smit retired Alex Cintron but walked Luis Matos. Jose Valentin singled and Smit then hit Alex Cora. Bernie Williams singled in Matos. Valentin tried to score as well but Dirk van 't Klooster's throw (relayed by Yurendell de Caster) was in time to nab that runner. Smit was then relieved by Robin van Doornspeek.
In the regular season, Smit was 7-2 with a 2.99 ERA for Beloit, whiffing 141 in 108 1/3 innings and holding opponents to a .199 average. Through 2006, he had struck out 364 in 270 innings in the minors, with a 18-13, 3.07 record and .209 opponent average.
Smit started 2007 on a bad note, going 1-4 with a save and a 5.86 ERA in 18 games for the Fort Myers Miracle. His strikeout rate fell drastically as he only K'd 38 in 50 2/3 IP - meanwhile, opponents hit .297 against him in the Florida State League. He was waived by the twins and the Cincinnati Reds claimed him off of the waiver line.
In the Cincinnati system, Smit had a 2-2, 1.19 record for the Dayton Dragons and was 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA for the Sarasota Reds. He struck out 38 in 39 2/3 innings at those two stops, looking a bit more like his pre-2007 self. The Reds added him to their 40-man roster that winter. He went 8-7 with a 3.87 ERA for Sarasota in 2008.
In the 2008 Olympics, Smit fanned 10 in 10 2/3 IP but was 0-2 with a 8.44 ERA. He was roughed up by both the Japanese national team and South Korea. During the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Alexander tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings in 4 games for the Netherlands but walked three and allowed two hits. In game one against the Dominican Republic, he replaced Sidney Ponson with a 3-1 lead and two on. Robinson Cano laid down a bunt hit, then Hanley Ramirez tied the game with a sacrifice fly. David Ortiz was intentionally walked and Rob Cordemans relieved Smit, getting out of the jam; the Orange won 3-2. In the rematch, Smit tossed a scoreless fifth inning against the Dominican Republic after replacing Tom Stuifbergen.
Alex had a 4-3, 3.04 record for the Carolina Mudcats in 2009 with 73 K in 71 IP and spent time in the lower ranks after a May injury sidelined him. A free agent at year's end, he re-signed with the Reds. He was atrocious for the 2010 Mudcats (1-5, 9.14, 1.94 WHIP) and ended his career with a 34-36, 3.04 record in the minor leagues. He finished with the third-longest Organized Baseball career of a player from Holland, following Robert Eenhoorn and Ralph Milliard.
Sources include 2004-2007 Baseball Almanacs, IBAF site, World Baseball Classic site, 2007 Twins Media Guide, MILB.com, Marco Stoovelaar's Dutch baseball site, Harry Wedemeijer's international baseball tournament statistics, 2008 Olympics