“Smoltz — who the hell is he?”

Interesting piece about the genesis of the Smoltz for Alexander deal.

The Tiger who almost became a Brave

The Tiger who almost became a Brave

“The Atlanta Braves would take either (Steve) Searcy or Smoltz. When I asked various people, the consensus was (to keep) Searcy. The consensus was that he was closer (to the majors),” said (then Tigers-GM Bill) Lajoie. “I didn’t feel like I was on real solid ground at the time. I went with the consensus, knowing full well that I should have traded Searcy. With a check and balance system, the president of the club said did this person agree, did this person agree? Yes. Did I agree? No. But with a checks and balances system, that’s why it was done.”

Searcy, a third-round pick by the Tigers in the 1985 draft (Smoltz lasted until the 22nd round that same year), was widely considered the better prospect. He finished his MLB career with 6 wins, 13 losses, a 5.68 ERA and a WHIP of 1.73.

Smoltz’s numbers with Detroit’s Double-A affiliate in 1987 weren’t much better: 4 wins, 10 losses and a 5.68 ERA. He walked almost as many batters (81) as he struck out (86).

Fortunately for the Braves, a scout named John Hagemann saw Smoltz’s potential.

“I think my words were, ‘The best arm I’ve seen so far,’” said Hagemann. “Top-of-the-rotation guy. That’s how I saw him. I’m not a genius. I just recall a real live arm.”

–CB

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