Local pitcher signs pro contract as Major League Baseball set to play next month
VANCOUVER -- Cade Smith from Abbotsford is now part of the Cleveland Indians organization. The right-handed pitcher turned pro last week and with Major League Baseball announcing a return to play, the timing couldn’t be better for him.
"The sooner the MLB is up and running, that means things can get up and running from a minor league standpoint," Smith told CTV News.
Smith chose the Cleveland Indians after discussions on his future with the ball club. He was told they are dedicated to creating a family-like environment where you aren’t just a number on the field-- they want to help you grow in multiple ways.
"They have a long-term goal in sight. They are a team that really focuses on developing their pitchers and their players from within so they invest a lot of resources in that…they give the best tools for their pitchers to develop," he said.
The 21-year-old towers over the mound at 6' 5". He spent the last three years pitching at the University of Hawaii while pursing a bachelor of science, majoring in biology. His schedule became hectic, and he decided to make a change.
"I felt clearly that I was ready to put all of my attention and effort in my development as a pitcher rather than trying to balance school and baseball at the same time," Smith said.
It’s not the first time Smith had a chance to play in the big leagues. Back in 2017, he was drafted out of high school by the Minnesota Twins but opted to go to school in Hawaii.
“Here I was in Hawaii, basically able to play baseball outside all-year round. It has beautiful beaches," Smith said. "There is no pro-sports on the island--the whole fan base is dedicated towards the university."
Smith found success coming out of the bullpen for the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. On his last game as a junior, playing visiting Oregon, he struck out nine batters in six innings. But, then it all came to a sudden end when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
"It happened over spring break… within six days, we went from, 'we are going to play but with no fans,' (to) 'we are going to be suspended indefinitely,' then it’s flat-out cancelled. It happened super quick," Smith told CTV News.
Smith is back home with his family in Abbotsford, waiting on a call from Cleveland on where he will be pitching this summer. The Indians' farm clubs are located in Ohio. He knows there is a lot to learn about his game and is committed to one day playing in the show.
"I trust that they have the same goal regarding my pitching that I do and that is to be in the big league," he said. "My responsibility is to buy in and work and learn."