Join Jays From the Couch as we highlight the 2019 season of New Hampshire’s Kevin Smith and Bluefield’s Spencer Horwitz
SS Kevin Smith
The 2019 season did not go as planned Kevin Smith. Smith dominated A-Ball in 2018 with a .355BA, 7HR, 44RBI, and 1.046OPS in 46 games. This got the hype train rolling and resulted in a mid April promotion to A-Advanced where Kevin Smith continued to display impressive power. However, despite hitting 18 home run for the D-Jays, Smith’s ISO plummeted from .284 to .194 while his K/9 soared from 16.2% to 23.7%.
The Blue Jays were hopeful Kevin Smith would make some offseason adjustments to address the high strike out numbers and gave him a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire to start the 2019 season.
The former 2017 4th round selection stumbled out of the blocks with a .200BA, 6/25 BB/K, 4 doubles, and 2 HR in 21 games in April. His K’s climbed to 32 (25GP) and 33 (22GP) in May and June and his batting average continued to suffer from a .183BA on June 29th.
On July 3rd Kevin Smith was placed on the 7-day IL, returning on July 11th. This ‘rest’ resulted in Kevin Smith’s best month which saw him bat .333 with 3 doubles, 8HR, 18RBI, and a season-low 23K. Unfortunately, Smith’s newfound success would be short-lived as he struggled to a .174BA with 4 doubles, 3HR, and 6/36 BB/K in August (26GP).
Kevin Smith finished with a .209 BA with a .666OPS, 22 doubles, 2 triples, and 19HR in 116 games. He finished with the team lead in HR, RBI, and K’s. He also lead the Eastern League with 151 strikeouts and was 4th in HR. Despite the high K rate and near Mendoza batting average, Smith provided the Fisher Cats with near league-average production, .300wOBA and 93wRC+.
Smith’s struggles with plate discipline resulted in a 6.2BB% and an ugly 32.3K%, finishing with an unkind 0.19BB/K. Smith did a good job of putting the ball in the air (50.2FB%) and lowed his GB% from 38.6% to 30.0%. Smith is an extreme pull hitter with 48.6Pull%, 2.52Cent%, and 26.2Oppo%.
I am sure the Front Office was expecting Kevin Smith to provide a power bat in the middle of the Fisher Cats order but his struggles pushed him down in the order. Smith batted 4th 18x, 5th 10x, 6th 53x, and 7th 10x. In the field, Kevin Smith played 87 games at SS, committing just 13 errors for a tidy .964FPCT. He also played 2nd base (5GP) and 3rd base (18GP).
Home: .177BA with 9 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 24RBI, and a .529OPS
Away: .240BA with 13 2B, 1 3B, 14HR, 37RBI, and .794OPS
Most Productive Game
On August 22nd, Kevin Smith went 3-for-4 with a double and two home runs. Smith drove in two RBI and scored twice. He walked and struck out. Kevin Smith had one other two HR game (July 12th), eight 3-hit games, and two 4RBI games but his 10 total bases performance was his best in 2019.
The power is legit but it won’t mean a thing if he can’t get those K’s under control. Fortunately, there is no rush to get Smith to the Major Leagues. He isn’t Rule V eligible until 2020. It looks as though the Blue Jays their infield of the future in Toronto already. I’d like to see Kevin Smith use the entire field and aim for more doubles, letting his natural power carry the ball over the fence. The Blue Jays don’t need more 150+ strikeout hitters. Smith should remain in AA until he can get his K% below 25% and his batting average back above .250.
1B/LF Spencer Horwitz
Drafted in the 24th round of the 2019 Draft. Horwitz signed on June 16th. He was assigned to the Bluefield Blue Jays on June 17th, making his professional debut on June 18th (0-for-4 with a K).
Most scouting reports like his plate discipline but don’t feel there is enough power in his bat for a 1st baseman. Spencer hit the ground running with a .375BA, 5 doubles, 1 HR (June 27th), 9RBI, and 2/7 BB/K in 10 games in June. In 24 games in July, Spencer Horwitz continued to find success, batting .313, 6 doubles, 1 HR, 24RBI, and 12/8 BB/K.
He was promoted to Vancouver on August 24th after batting .329 with 7 doubles, a triple, 1 HR, 16RBI, and 9/9 BB/K in 17 games. Spencer appeared in 9 games with the Canadians, batting .190 with a double, 1 HR, 3RBI, and 1/6 BB/K.
The native of Timonium, MD., finished with 18 doubles, a triple, 3HR, 49RBI, 5SB, a .330BA, and .866OPS in 51 games with Bluefield. He lead the club in RBI (3rd in the league), he finished 2nd in the league (and team) in doubles, and he finished 2nd on the club (3rd in the league) in with 68 hits.
Spencer Horwitz showed excellent plate discipline with a 9.9BB% and 10.3K% while displaying a decent .141ISO. His .393wOBA and 139wRC+ were well above league average. Horwitz pulls 43.8% of the time with a 31.9Oppo%. He finished with a 45.9GB% and 32.2FB% while producing a 21.9LD%. This level of production resulted in Horwitz batting 3rd (29x) and cleanup (21x).
Horwitz split his time in the field between LF (18GP) and 1B (20GP). He played two games at 2B for the Canadians.
Home: .294BA with 3 2B, 0 3B, 1HR, 14RBI, and .705OPS
Away: .355BA with 15 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 35RBI, and .977OPS
LHP: .311/.385/.422 (45AB)
Most Productive Game
On July 19th, the 6-foot-0 Horwitz went 3-for-4 with a pair singles, a double, a walk, a pair of runs scored, 4RBI, and 4 total bases. He had one 4-hit game, six 3-hit games, a two doubles game, a 7 TB game and two 6 TB games, and one other 4RBI.
Spencer Horwitz has a chance at joining the Lansing Lugnuts to open the 2020 season. Unfortunately, there is a possibility he will be labeled an organizational guy unless he can find a way to deposit a few more balls over the outfield wall. He doesn’t play a premium position and he doesn’t shine in LF where he can get away with a low-ish ISO. With all that said, I enjoy watching the Horwitz’ of the league play far more than the Smith’s of the league.
Featured image credit: R.Mueller
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Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn’t cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I’m more right.