The Toronto Blue Jays may be able to benefit from calling up Kevin Smith, who is having a break out year in AAA
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The Toronto Blue Jays drafted Kevin Smith in the 4th round of the 2017 Draft and he has been steadily climbing their system, showing mixed results along the way. Now, at age 25, he is in AAA Buffalo and is having himself a rather excellent season at the plate. In fact, given his positional versatility and production, one has to wonder if the Blue Jays would do well to call him up sooner, rather than later.
Since he joined the organization, Smith has been seeing playing time all over the diamond. Most recently, in Buffalo, he has seen action at left and right field, third and short. We shouldn’t read too much into his grand total of 5 games in the outfield as he’s played more games than that (6) at DH. The bulk of his playing time has come at short with 59 games there and just 13 at the hot corner.
Smith had a rather hefty 2018 season, hitting .302 with 25 home runs and 29 stolen bases. But, he had the opposite kind of year in 2019. However, with the cancelled season, he would have time to get back to form. That form includes (per his MLB.com Scouting Report): “…a unique profile because, on top of his power, he’s also a good runner and has one of the best infield throwing arms in the organization. A very reliable defender, the Blue Jays fully trust Smith at shortstop, second base and third base due to his physical talent and high baseball IQ.”
It is this intelligence and defensive skill that make Smith an interesting prospect for the Blue Jays. Obviously, he would need to show that his approach at the plate has improved and his 2019 struggles were not to be believed. As it turns out, he is on his way to doing that this season:
This is a Kevin Smith Appreciation post #Bisons
Say it along with us… "MVP, MVP, MVP" 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/KBOAbBOiid
— Buffalo Bisons🦬 (@BuffaloBisons) August 16, 2021
The combination of power and speed is too much to ignore. When you couple that with a 60 grade arm, the Blue Jays could kinda sorta maybe have a third base answer…at least until Jordan Groshans is ready. The home run totals, along with the other power numbers (XBH, SLG, etc) are easy to fall in love with, but it is the other aspect of his production that make Smith that much more interesting. He currently has an OBP of .371 with 40 walks. Given that he has had 352 plate appearances, though the walks aren’t the reason he’s getting on base. He’s doing it with his bat. He will strike out about once per game, but baseball seems to care less and less about strike outs anyway. And, with his production, you can live with a K per game.
Defensively speaking, Smith offers versatility and effectiveness. He’s made 10 errors in 613 innings of play, 9 of which came at short while the other came at third. The number of errors shouldn’t mean that much to us, but the arm strength is really intriguing. His ability to be a solid defender at third certainly puts him in an interesting thought exercise.
Could the Blue Jays look at calling Smith up? With just over two weeks left in August, it would take a performance like Smith’s to force the front office into that kind of decision. But, it wouldn’t take that alone. The situation would have to call for it. In all likelihood, Santiago Espinal would have to suffer an injury, perhaps. (EDIT: It is implied here that Smith would have to be added to the 40 man roster, but let’s make it explicit. Smith would need to be added to the 40 man roster and an injury could pave the way for that.) While Espinal doesn’t have the same offensive numbers that Smith does, he has earned himself the third base job.
So, if anything, we could see Toronto call Smith up in September when rosters expand. They could do so solely as a reward for such a great season, but if they’re serious about a postseason run, and are still in the race by then, he would have to be deserving of the call up, which is fine because he would have earned it. This could allow the team am opportunity to see what he can do at the big league level.
Currently 23rd on the Blue Jays Top Prospects List, and is 25 years old, so it is not like anyone is suggesting that Smith be the ‘third baseman of the future’ or anything. But, he is earning some thought and attention with his potential MVP season in Buffalo. He has “September call up” written all over him. There’s a non zero chance he gets the call earlier than that, but there is also a chance he doesn’t get the call at all with the club preferring to not add him to the 40 man roster. As well, the big league club trying to make the postseason could mean roster spots go to pitchers, etc. However, at the very least, Kevin Smith deserves a call up as a way of acknowledging his return to form.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.