Jays From the Couch Will Review Seasons Of Many, Hopefully, Most, Of The Toronto Blue Jays Prospects. Not Just The Top Prospects.
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In 2018, Kevin Smith saw his stock skyrocket as he showed above-average power with the ability to hit for average with Toronto’s A-Ball and Advanced-A clubs. Smith also stole 29 bases that season. Unfortunately, Smith saw his stock fall in 2019 as a member of the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
In 2019, Smith saw his BABIP fall from .349 to .269. His extra-base hits fell from 62 to 43 while seeing his BB/9 decrease and his K/9 increase. These increases and decreases aren’t uncommon when a player moves through the ranks. Smith continues to demonstrate the ability to hit for power (19HR) with some speed (11SB) but his batting average dropped from .302 to .209. The combination of high K/9 and low batting average is where the questions surrounding his value as a prospect.
To say Kevin Smith rebounded in 2021, would be a drastic understatement but it didn’t start out that way. Kevin kicked off the 2021 season by going .225 with 4 doubles, 5HR, 9BB, and 23K in 20GP. It was eerily similar to 2019. But things changed for Smith in June. Smith had eight multi-hit games. His walk totals increased from 9 in May to 19 in June while maintaining his strikeout rate. Kevin was more active on the basepaths, stealing 8 bases in 9 attempts versus 2SB in May. Smith hit 7 doubles, a triple, and 7 home runs in 25 games.
With the 25-yr-old turning heads with an outstanding June, he doubled down with an equally impressive July. In 26 games, the infielder batted .317 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs, and 4SB. He finished the month with a .295BA, 19 doubles, 3 triples, 18HR, and 14SB.
The native of East Greenbush, NY., was added to the 40-man roster on August 18th, making his Major League debut against Washington on August 18th. He didn’t see consistent action during his time with the Blue Jays. This inconsistent playing time seemed to throw off his rhythm at the plate. Between August 18th and September 9th, Smith made 32 plate appearances, batting .094 with a .194OBP, .188SLG, and 1HR.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) August 29, 2021
When Smith was returned to the Bisons, Smith batted .279 with 4 doubles, a home run, 4BB, 13K, and 2SB in 10 games. Smith added two more singles, a home run, an RBI, two walks, and a strikeout in two October games.
At the End Of the Day
In 94 games, the Bisons MVP batted .285 with a .370OBP and .561SLG. He produced well above-average with .398wOBA and 144wRC+. His .276ISO was well above his .193ISO from 2019 with a .333BABIP. Smith increased his BB% from 11.2% in 2021 from 6.2% while lowering his K% to 23.7% from 32.3%.
🚨Your 2021 #Bisons Stan Barron Most Valuable Player!
— Buffalo Bisons🦬 (@BuffaloBisons) September 24, 2021
Smith finished with 21HR, 27 doubles, 4 triples, and 18SB. The Bisons’ infielder showed improvement to his FB% from 50.2% in ’19 to 39.1% in ’21. His home runs per flyballs improved from 13.4% to 21.2% with an increase to his line drive rate going from 19.8 in ’19 to 26.1%. It seemed like Kevin Smith stopped trying to create a launch angle and just drive the ball.
On June 15th, Buffalo was facing off against Rochester in Rochester. Kevin Smith went 3-for-5 with 3 runs scored, 9 total bases thanks to 2 home runs. He drove in 4 runs, walking once and striking out once. It was the only two HR game of Smith’s season.
LHP vs RHP
The former 2017 4th round selection saw more success against RHP with a .297/.380/.576 line with 22 doubles, 2 triples, and 17HR. Against LHP, Smith slashed .241/.337/.506 with 5 doubles, two triples, 4HR.
Clutch or No
With the bases empty, Smith batted .272 with 15 doubles, 2 triples, 11HR. With the bases loaded, he batted .417 with a pair of doubles while driving in 11 runs. With RISP, Smith demonstrated a clutch bat with a .299BA and 1.068OPS, driving in 51RBI with 6 doubles, 2 triples, and 8HR.
In the Field
The Herd’s infielder played 66 games at SS, committing 9 errors with a .968FPCT. He also played 17 games at 3rd base, 4 games in LF, 1 game at 1st, and 6 at DH.
The future for Kevin Smith has many possible directions. The 6-foot-0 infielder could form a 3rd base platoon with Santiago Espinal in Toronto. We could see Smith fill in at SS or 2nd base as a bench bat. Smith could return to Triple-A to iron out some holes in his swing exposed during his time with the Blue Jays.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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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.