Team Ireland pitcher Keelan Smithers is heading to Port St. Lucie, FL for spring training, after signing a minor league deal with the New York Mets.
Smithers, who pitched for Ireland at the 2018 European Championship Qualifier, is a 6′ 4″ left handed pitcher. The native of Framingham, Massachusetts pitched four years for Princeton University prior to making his debut for the Irish National Baseball Team.
With the Smithers signing, the New York Mets once again find themselves on the right side of Irish Baseball history. In 2018, Belfast native PJ Conlon became the first Irish-born player in the Major Leagues since 1945, when he took the mound for the Mets in Cincinnati.
The Mets hope that Smithers makes an impact similar to the mark he made on European Baseball in 2018. In his Irish debut, Smithers struck out 7 batters in 7 innings of one-hit baseball against Greece. The performance earned Smithers the coveted “Best Pitcher” award in the European C-Pool Qualifier Tournament. Ireland went on to win the gold medal in that tournament.
An interesting side note: Smithers’ cousin, Aidan Mehigan played for the gold medal winning Irish Junior National Baseball Team at the 2017 Under-18 European Championship Qualifying Tournament in Zurich, Switzerland. The 2017 gold medal and the 2018 gold medal, won by Mehigan and Smithers, respectively, are the only gold medals won by Ireland since the Irish National Team formed in 1996.
Good luck in pro baseball, Keelan!