The Toronto Blue Jays have reassigned 23-year-old outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. to minor league camp, marking their first cut of the spring.
After spending his 2014 season with the hi-A Dunedin Blue Jays, Smith spent last season playing with th double-A New Hampshire FisherCats.
Smith has been a well-regarded prospect with the Blue Jays for several years now since being selected in the first round, 53rd overall, in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
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The move should not, however, be very indicative of his standing within the organization.
While the club will be hoping to see Smith take a step forward in his fifth professional season, he does still possess the ability to be an extremely valuable piece to the club. Unfortunately for Smith, the Toronto Blue Jays outfield is one crowded room at the moment.
In major league camp, Smith was clearly left standing behind starters Jose Bautista, Kevin Pillar and (likely) Michael Saunders for reps. His issue, though, comes more with the log-jam at the B-level.
Whether it be Junior Lake, Darrell Ceciliani, Domonic Brown, or Ezequiel Carrera, the competition is busy. Anthony Alford and Dalton Pompey are also in the picture, representing the club’s highest-ceiling outfield options.
Essentially, this move is about the numbers game.
Now, Smith will land back in minor league camp early with the ability to maximize his spring reps.
While it would be excellent to see Smith see some reps with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons in 2016, it’s likely that he runs in to the same problem there and begins the year back in New Hampshire. If injuries create opportunity ahead of him, though, he should be more than capable.
One tool to watch with Smith this season is his speed. After stealing 25 bases in 2013 and 18 in 2014, that number dropped back down to just four in 117 games last year. With Smith’s bat and ability to work a good walk, a rebound year in that department would help to shoot his value back up.