Q&A With Iowa Western Commit Brett Smerz

By Matt Huck
Area Scout

2016 RHP Brett Smerz from Pius XI recently committed to JUCO powerhouse Iowa Western. Currently ranked No. 29 in the Wisconsin Class of 2016, Smerz is coming off Tommy John surgery he underwent last year. In his first outing since Tommy John Smerz topped out at 89 mph at the PBR Top Prospect Showcase this past June and saw him again at the Labor Day Challenge with an upper 80's fastball and swing and miss life. Here is our most recent report on him from the PBR Labor Day Challenge.

Brett Smerz9.5.15 - Solid build, uptempo right-handed pitcher. Pitches with effort, high energy. Quick arm out of high ¾ slot, short arm action. Lively fastball, 87-88 mph, touched 89 mph, lacked command but showed swing and miss life through the zone. Hard curveball, ranged 73-77 mph, between 11/5 and 12/6 action, got steeper when thrown harder, got 3 of 4 strikeouts via the curveball in two innings pitched.

PBR: What were your expectations about the recruiting process? Was it as expected? Easy/Difficult?

Smerz: My expectations for the recruiting process was that it was going to be stressful, exciting, and a very time consuming process. The process was all that and more, due to my UCL replacement surgery. Due to my surgery the process became a lot more difficult to market myself to bigger schools as many had health concerns regarding my arm. Most of these concerns were put to rest however after I returned to the mound only 9 months out of surgery at the PBR Top Prospect Showcase.

PBR: What were you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at?

Smerz: My ideal college was a school that would be able to help me develop into the complete pitcher my family, coaches, and teammates know I can become, and at the same time play at a very high level. I also wanted to join a tightly knitted family that works well with one another to achieve the common goal of winning championships.

PBR: Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

Smerz: Location did not play a huge factor at all in my college choice, however my parents were definitely satisfied with the distance Iowa Western was from my home. It is not too far to drive (about 6 hours), but at the same time I'm not living in my parents' backyard.

PBR: When did the recruiting process really start to heat up for you? Was there a particular game or event that you feel turned the corner for you?

Smerz: My recruiting process never really took a big jump, as it was somewhat consistent, however after the PBR Top Prospect Showcase I got some more interest. Another event I gained interest from was the PTA Top Prospect Showcase where I topped out at 91mph for the first time. After that, I received some more interest from some big schools.

PBR: Where did the college you chose first see you? How did your relationship develop with them?

Smerz: Iowa Western first saw me through video sent to them through my school baseball coach Kevin Kehoss. After the initial video we kept in constant contact for the next couple weeks, which led to my visit.

PBR: What do you like most about the college you committed to and what were the key factors in making your decision?

Smerz: Iowa Western has an outstanding winning tradition, as well as a great reputation for exposing players to big time college and pro scouts due to their highly competitive schedule. When I visited the school the coaches were very welcoming and the campus is within ten minutes of Omaha. This is a big deal to me as I have always lived near a major city growing up in the Milwaukee area. Lastly, the family-like atmosphere they create as a team is beyond welcoming and is just what I was looking for.

PBR: What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?

Smerz: Northern Illinois University, University of Indiana, Seton Hall University

PBR: Who is the best player you have faced in your state, and why?

Smerz: During the High school season easily the best player I faced was Ty Ramirez. Not only was he a hard out to get at the plate, he was also a pitcher who placed his pitches extremely well. Last season we had a game go on 15 innings due to the major pitchers duel going on between teams. During the travel season the best player I played against would have to be Alec Marsh. He is another hard out at the plate since he has a lot of sneaky pop in his bat. He also has a fastball that can reach up to 92mph with a good curveball to go with it.

PBR: At what point in your career did you realize you were a college caliber player and became serious about taking your game to the next level?

Smerz: After my freshman year many coaches and trainers explained to me I had the potential to be a D1 athlete and possibly more if I work hard and stay consistent. Ever since then I have been a complete gym rat and have been obsessed with becoming a better overall athlete.

PBR: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

Smerz: The best advice I can give young players is to stay in the game. We all have our down days, and some days you may give up a big hit that costs the game, but that is only one game. You still have your whole career ahead of you. Keep your head up and train hard and the results will come!

PBR: What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point?

Smerz: The most memorable baseball moment in my career is easily when I got the win against New Berlin West my freshman year to guarantee the conference title. I was not supposed to pitch the game, however the day before the game our #1 pitcher in the rotation got injured and I had to fill in. The confidence everyone had in me as a freshman still makes this my favorite moment in my baseball career. That season we also set a new record with a 19 game winning streak.

PBR: Preview your high school season for us. How do you feel your team will be? What are your expectations and goals?

Smerz: This season we have almost everyone coming back except for 2 seniors from last years team that was one game away from state. This is huge as the freshmen who played such a big role last year will have matured even more and our team will be extremely hard to beat. I have confidence our pitching staff will again prove to be one of the better ones in state, and our hitting will continue to improve. I feel this year we have a very good chance at making a run for state if everything clicks as it should, however we will always take one game at a time. Our team has an enormous amount of potential, it's just up to us to play hard and have fun.

PBR: Where do you play in the summer? And what has been your most memorable experience with them?

Smerz: During the fall and spring I play for Prospect Training Academy, and my favorite moment with them would be just hanging out in the dugout. As many places as we travel together, its hard to pick one single tournament. It is always just a treat to have such a great, funny, and supportive group of guys to have befriended this past year. Shout out to all my PTA buddies I love all you guys!

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