Join Jays From the Couch as we review the highlights and lowlights of Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Kevin Smith 2017 season
The Blue Jays front office must have been over the moon with Kevin Smith’s performance in 2017. Taken in the 4th round this year’s draft, Smith signed on June 19th and made his professional debut on June 22nd with the Bluefield Blue Jays of the Appalachian League.
The 2016 Cape Cod League MVP played an integral part in the success of the Blue Jays. Smith played 61 games, providing manager Denis Holmberg with a potent table setter in the 2nd hole for the heart of the lineup. Along with Chavez Young, Ryan Noda, and Yorman Rodriguez, Smith helped Bluefield secure the Mercer Cup and a playoff berth. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays were ousted in the 1st round, losing the best of 3 series.
Heading into the draft, the University of Maryland product was considered a power bat with a reputation of possessing an outstanding glove. He didn’t disappoint. He showed excellent range at short, soft hands, above average arm strength, and impressive footwork. All indications are that Kevin Smith has the tools to stick at short.
All these glowing reviews must be why MLB Pipeline has him ranked as the Blue Jays 25th best prospect.
After getting off to a slow start to close out June, Kevin Smith had an outstanding July and August. Smith combined to play 115 games in 2017 (College and Professional), yet still managed to collect player of the week honors in August.
The right-handed batter excelled against right-handed pitching, batting .287 with 6 of his 8 home runs. Overall he produced well over league average with a .346 wOBA and showed solid power with a .195 ISO. This ISO explains why he produced a decent 22% line drive rate, along with a 37.2 GB% and 40.8 FB% which led to a tidy 0.91 GB/FB. Almost all Kevin Smith’s numbers led or ranked with the best in the Appy League. His 25 doubles led the league, 2nd in total bases, 4th in HR and RBI, and 5th in hits.
The 21-yr-old had 22 multi-hit games with seven 3-hit games and fifteen 2-hit games but his best game came on August 31st. With Bluefield facing off against Johnson City, Smith went 3-for-5 with 2 runs scored, a home run, and a whopping 6 runs batted in a 12-1 win.
Despite having an amazing professional debut, Smith displayed some weaknesses. The 6-foot-1 shortstop’s top 3 plate appearance outcomes were strikeout (70), flyout (45), and single (37).
Smith has some free-swinging tendencies with 70 strikeouts (5th highest in the Appy League) which led to an ugly 24.7 K% and 5.7 BB%. He also pulls the ball too much with 46.4% of his plays heading to left field.
Lastly, Smith struggled against left-handed pitching. He batted just .217, walking 9 times, and striking out 17 times in 60 at-bats.
The Blue Jays are going to have a problem on their hands very soon, with so many quality middle infielders filling the lower minors.
Logan Warmoth, Yeltsin Gudino, Kevin Vicuna, and Kevin Smith each deserve everyday roles. Warmoth showed well in Vancouver. Gudino posted career numbers in Lansing. Vicuna spent time in Dunedin, Lansing, and excelled in Vancouver.
I expect Kevin Smith to join the Lansing Lugnuts, skipping over Vancouver and heading straight to full season A-Ball. It’s possible Vicuna will spell Smith at short while getting at-bats at 2nd.
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