[Ed. note: If you’ve been paying attention to spring training even a little, it’s been hard not to notice NRI infielder Tyler Smith. In the Canó and Segura-less infield, he’s gotten some good looks and come up with some big hits, hitting .349 with 15 hits and 2 HRs. We asked our friends at Building the Dam to give you a brief overview of the Oregon State product.]
Hey, Mariner fans. It has come to our attention over at Building The Dam that you are starting to get acquainted with our old friend Tyler Smith. Well, I am here to tell you about the Tyler Smith we know from his days wearing orange and black.
Tyler Smith isn’t a flashy player. Tyler Smith isn’t even an exciting name. When you Google “Tyler Smith” you get results for a weed comic in Seattle and an attorney specializing in rural business issues (I just picture bitter legal fights over John Deere tractors) in Canby, Oregon. Tyler Smith may not hit a lot of home runs or make a series of highlight reel plays. Tyler Smith doesn’t post a whole lot on Twitter or Instagram. All in all, Tyler Smith is kind of boring; but that’s okay, because Tyler Smith is also a pretty good baseball player.
Smith came to Oregon State in 2009 from Thousand Oaks, California and made an immediate impact, starting as a true freshman replacing the departed Joey Wong (who recently signed with your Seattle Mariners). Even though Smith was a four-year starter at Oregon State, he was often an afterthought on a roster full of players with a future in professional baseball. During Smith’s OSU career the Beaver roster featured a pitching staff that included future pros Andrew Moore, Matt Boyd, Ben Wetzler, Sam Gaviglio and Jace Fry, and a lineup that featured fan favorites Michael Conforto, Dylan Davis, Andrew Susac, Stefen Romero and Danny Hayes. Meanwhile, Smith quietly sat atop the batting lineup with an OBP hovering around .400 while playing above-average defense up the middle and garnering All-Pac-10/12 honors in each of his final three seasons.
During his senior campaign of 2013, the Thousand Oaks native helped propel Oregon State back to Omaha for the first time since their successful title defense of 2007. Smith’s OSU career finished just short of a national title as Oregon State was knocked out in the semi-final round by eventual runner-up Mississippi State.
The Seattle Mariners selected Smith in the 8th round of the 2013 draft and he has spent the past four seasons quietly climbing the ranks through the Mariners’ farm system while doing the same Tyler Smith things he did at OSU: playing good defense and getting on base. Following a 2016 season in Tacoma which saw Smith play all over the infield, the shortstop-turned-utility man has taken full advantage of the Dominican Republic’s extended WBC run, getting plenty of playing time while doing the usual Tyler Smith things and adding a hint of power with two home runs in 37 at bats.
When all is said and done, Smith may never be a top prospect or a household name, but the former Beaver has a good chance to develop into a decent role player for the Mariners down the road…well, provided Jerry doesn’t trade him.