Delweld pitcher Andy Smithmyer said he will sign a professional contract with the Frontier League’s Washington Wild Things today and will leave the AAABA League regular-season champions.
“I got a call the other day about going to Washington and throwing in the pen in front of their coaches,” Smithmyer said on Saturday night. “I hoped to get an opportunity to throw professional baseball. I went up there Friday and had a real good session in the pen. They said they were more than happy to sign me. I’m going to sign (today) and hopefully start out my professional career.”
Smithmyer has been among the league’s top pitchers during his successful career with Delweld.
In 2011, the right-hander won the Pete Vuckovich Award as the AAABA League’s top pitcher. His 19-strikeout performance against rival Martella’s Pharmacy earned Smithmyer the 2011 Point Stadium Award.
This season, he had a 2-0 record in 22 innings pitched.
Smithmyer had made it known that he was exploring professional options after his career at Division I East Carolina University concluded.
Delweld manager Chris DelSignore figured whatever contributions he received from his former ace would be a bonus. Delweld took the regular-season crown and secured a berth in the 69th AAABA Tournament.
On Saturday, Delweld beat Laurel Auto Group 6-2 in Game 1 of the best-of-5 semifinals.
“I never really counted on having Andy all year because we knew his situation and that he was working out with pro teams,” DelSignore said. “You have that in the back of your mind. We knew we might not have him in this series. He’s got to do what is best for him and we wish him well.”
An Altoona resident, Smithmyer is pleased that his family will have a relatively short drive to see him with the Wild Things, who play at Consol Energy Park in Washington, Pa.
“It’s only 21⁄2 hours from where I live. That’s good,” Smithmyer said. “It gives my family the opportunity to come and watch me pitch for a day trip rather than when they came down to school to watch me at East Carolina and they’d travel eight hours.”
The Wild Things coaching staff includes Bob Bozzuto, pitching coach Gary Lee, assistant coach Rich Pasquale and field manager Bart Zeller. Washington is 25-28.
“They said in the beginning it would be long relief and then the goal is to work me into the starting rotation,” Smithmyer said.
Delweld has a reputation for recruiting solid college and high school players with potential to turn pro. That much has been evident this season. A deep and talented rotation has been thinned as players left for other opportunities.
The Atlanta Braves drafted Ian Stiffler last month. Bobby Carbaugh began the local season in impressive fashion but later joined the prestigious Cape Cod Collegiate wooden bat league on the instruction of his college coach. Now, Smithmyer will leave a team headed to the national tournament in approximately two weeks.
“It’s just the next guy in line has stepped up this year,” DelSignore said. “From a numbers standpoint we’ve taken a hit but we’ve gotten quality starts out of all of our pitchers whether they go out there and start or if we put our relievers in. Whatever the role, our pitchers have done an outstanding job.”
DelSignore included Smithmyer in that list of standout performers.
“Andy had a workout with (the Wild Things),” DelSignore said. “They liked what they saw, and rightfully so. They offered him a contract. They wanted him right away. The timing isn’t great, but sometimes it’s not about us. It’s about moving guys forward and we’ve done a good job of moving guys up through the ranks in professional baseball.”
The move will be at least somewhat bittersweet.
“I’m definitely going to miss hanging out with a great group of guys and coaches,” Smithmyer said. “The last couple years playing for Delweld was a great time. I just wish them the best of luck the rest of the season and in the AAABA Tournament.”