The Toronto Blue Jays a have a dilemma in A-Ball in the form of budding star Kevin Smith
The Lansing Lugnuts Kevin Smith is batting .387 with 19 doubles, 2 triples, and 5 HR. He has driven in 33 RBI, stolen 9 bases, and owns a 1.095 OPS.
While a month and a half is small sample size, the Maryland alumni has 14 multi-hit games, 10 multi-RBI games (season-high 5 RBI), and 5 games with 6 total bases.
Smith has looked much better at the plate, increasing his walk rate from 5.7% up to 7.5% and decreasing his K% from 24.7% to 13.0%. Kevin Smith has managed to improve his power (.263 ISO) while being more selective at the plate.
The 21-yr-old infielder is hitting the ball in the air more with a 4.7% increase over his 40.8 FB% in his rookie season. He is also pulling the ball more (49.1%) and using the opposite field more (31.0%). Last season, Smith pulled the ball 46.4 % of the time and went to the opposite field 25.5%.
While Kevin Smith leads the Midwest League in hits with 53, doubles, RBI, TB with 91, OPS, and SLG (.664), it doesn’t appear the Blue Jays are in any rush to promote him.
On top of all this, the Troy, NY native has moved off his natural position, SS, to play some 3rd base (17 games) to accommodate Kevin Vicuna (who is having a hell of a season).
So what’s the dilemma?
The dilemma is Smith is stuck. There is no room for him in Dunedin or New Hampshire. Logan Warmoth is playing a level ahead of him and Bo Bichette a level ahead of that. You can’t demote Warmoth, can you? And you aren’t going to take playing time away from Bichette.
Logan Warmoth, 2017 1st rounder, was assigned to the Advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays after batting .306 with a .775 OPS for the Vancouver Canadians in his rookie season; unfortunately, Warmoth has yet to find his groove in 2018.
In 32 games, Logan Warmoth is batting just .235 with 5 doubles, a triple, and a HR. He has driven in 11 RBI and owns a .628 OPS. The 22-yr-old SS has batted .225 with 3 BB and 11K over his last 10 games.
So why not promote Kevin Smith as a 3rd baseman?
With 22-yr-old Ivan Castillo and 22-yr-old Bradley Jones sharing the 3rd base responsibilities for the D-Jays, Smith would need an injury or one of the pair catch fire. Unfortunately for all aspiring 3rd basemen in the Blue Jays system, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has a death grip on the position.
Castillo is batting .277 with 5 doubles, a triple, and 5 RBI in 25 games while Bradley Jones is batting .242 with 8 double, a triple, and 3 HR.
Jones offensive game compares well with Smith. Jones started the 2017 season with the Lugnuts after hitting 16 HR and batting .291 with the Bluefield Blue Jays in 2016. Jones was promoted to Dunedin on June 3rd, 2017 after batting .326 with 10 doubles, 3 triples, and 9 HR in 49 games with Lansing. Unfortunately, Bradley Jones would go down with an injury on June 25 and miss the rest of the season.
Maybe moving Kevin Smith over to 2nd base would work?
I don’t like that idea. Smith has the skills in the field to be a major league SS. Maybe if Kevin Smith lacked arm strength or range or soft hands this would be an option.
The Toronto Blue Jays system his loaded with quality middle infield prospects.
Logan Warmoth and Bradley Jones in Dunedin.
Kevin Vicuna and Kevin Smith in Lansing.
As long as Kevin Smith continues to put up video-esque numbers in May, he will be heading to Dunedin come June. The Blue Jays have already move Bradley Jones to 2nd base and with Smith seeing time at 3rd, this appears to be the most logical path for Lansing star SS.
FYI- Smith is batting .512 with a HR, 7RBI, 4BB, 5K, and 3 SB over his last 10 games. He is riding a 6 game hit streak where he’s collected multiple hits in 5. He has reached base in 22 of his last 23 games.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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