University of Hawaii pitcher Cade Smith today reached agreement on a free-agent contract with the Cleveland Indians.
“A big part of it is me feeling like I’m ready, that I have matured and developed to the point where I’m ready to begin and go after it in professional baseball.”
As a junior this past season, Smith was eligible for last week’s Major League Baseball Draft for First-Year Players. He was not selected in the five-round draft. This past Sunday, teams were allowed to offer free-agent contracts (with a maximum signing bonus of $20,000) to undrafted players.
Smith, a biology major with a 3.95 grade-point average, had the option to return to UH for his second junior year. An NCAA rule enables spring-sport athletes to retain this year’s class standing next year. Smith said his decision was two-fold.
“This is a unique situation where I’m able to choose the organization I want to go to, and take a team that I think would be a really good fit for me and has really good pitcher development,” Smith said. “Part of being a biology major, I have a lot of homework and not necessarily a lot of time. For me to be able to focus on one pursuit is going to be able to benefit me rather than having my time and energy split between two different ones.”
Five teams showed interest in Smith. “It was a very unique situation being able to have meetings with guys in player development of various organizations,” Smith said, “and hearing about how they develop players, their philosophies, stuff like that, and to choose the organization I feel is the best for me.”
Smith, who was born and reared in British Columbia, pitched for Canada’s U18 national team. He was the Minnesota Twins’ 16th-round pick in the 2017 MLB draft, but opted to attend UH.
During the pandemic-abbreviated 2020 season, Smith was 1-0 with a 4.42 ERA. He averaged 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings. In six innings of relief against Oregon, he struck out nine.
“He’s a great kid, and we’re happy for him,” UH coach Mike Trapasso said. “We’ll root for Cade.”