Small was signed as a free agent bonus baby by the Detroit Tigers in 1955. As a bonus baby, the Tigers were required to keep Small on their major league roster for both 1955 and 1956.
In the major leagues Small was used entirely as an outfielder. While playing in the minor leagues, it was decided in 1960 to convert Small into a pitcher. After getting shelled in a few appearances, he was sent back to the outfield. Small did however make one pitching appearance in 1962, his last year as a professional baseball player.