Blue Jays: The rising success of infield prospect Kevin Smith

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 11: A detailed view of Louisville Slugger baseball batting gloves at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 11, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 11: A detailed view of Louisville Slugger baseball batting gloves at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 11, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

With the Toronto Blue Jays having one of the top rated farm systems in all of baseball, there are many prospects trying to find a way to crack the major league roster. Kevin Smith is one of those prospects, and another good season in the minor leagues could see him make waves this year and the next.

Kevin Smith was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 4th round of the 2017 amateur draft. The East Greenbush, New York native was in his junior year at the University of Maryland when he was drafted by the Blue Jays, and this was the first time he had ever heard his name called in the draft (he went undrafted out of high school).

While he was with the Terps, the infielder would suit up in 177 games over the course of three years and would slash .267/.331/.455. He would also smash 28 home runs during this time, followed with 117 RBI, 59 BB, and 132 strikeouts.

What would ultimately help Smith’s draft stock was his contributions to the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the Cape Cod league in 2016. During his time with the Sox, he would play in 41 games, hitting for a .301 AVG with 2 home runs, 9 walks, and 33 strikeouts. Smith would also find a way to put the ball into the outfield with 12 doubles and 14 RBI.

He would go on to step up during the playoffs for the Red Sox, where in 7 games he would belt 3 home runs and 7 RBI, leading the team to a championship with a .370 AVG.

His play in the Cape Cod League would cultivate into Smith being named a Cape Cod League All-Star and he would also earn the Championship Playoff MVP honours for his performance during the regular season with the club.

With his strong 2016, Smith became noticed by scouts across the league and the Blue Jays would go on to select him in the 2017 draft, and would immediately put him in Rookie League ball with the Bluefield Blue Jays.

In his first year of professional baseball, Kevin Smith would play in 68 games, slashing .271/.312/.466 with 8 home runs. He would spend the entire season playing SS for the team.

In 2018, Smith would see a promotion to both the A and A+ leagues in both Lansing and Dunedin respectively. It was during this season that Kevin Smith started to really pound the baseball, and really put himself on the radar in terms of top prospects within the Blue Jays organization.

Over the two leagues, he would play in 129 games and would slash a ridiculous .302/.358/.528 with 25 home runs and 93 RBI. It is safe to say that Kevin Smith’s play in 2018 is what bolstered his prospect status within the organization, as MLB Pipeline would see him ranked the 6th best prospect on the team (after the promotion of Danny Jansen, Smith went from #7th to #6th) coming into 2019.

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The reason Kevin Smith is so interesting is that he reworked his swing and his approach at the plate in order to create better drive on the ball after his 2017 season. It was his work in the offseason that cumulated into a monster start to the season in 2018 in Single-A ball with the Lansing Lugnuts, which ultimately earned him a promotion to A+ ball in Dunedin.

His power was also on display during the 2018 season, as he was spreading the ball across the diamond but also put the ball over the outfield fence 25 times. I particularly like how he drives the barrel through the zone, as well as using his whole body to get around the baseball and what ultimately is driving his power. His swing kind of reminds me of Josh Donaldson at the plate, with the higher leg kick and his stride through the zone.

The 2018 season also saw Kevin Smith explore his defensive ability across the infield. He would still see his share of starts at SS, but he would also spend some time at 3B and 2B as well, making him a bit more flexible in terms of positioning. This infield ability may help Smith in the future, as many of other Blue Jays prospects are in the SS and 3B position, but less at 2B.

For 2019, Kevin Smith is off to a bit of a slower start with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in AA. He is slashing .241/.281/.426 and already has 16 strikeouts in just 13 games this season. On the flip side, he does have 2 home runs this season, as well as 5 RBI, which is a number that will surely grow as the season goes on.

I can honestly say I am not too worried about the slash line for Smith as the season begins. He is obviously facing tougher competition at AA, and considering the hard work he puts in during the offseason and regular season, I expect his slash line to grow, as well as his home runs and RBI’s across the board.

There are quite a few games left in the regular season and if Kevin Smith can have a strong year in AA, there is the potential for him to make it to AAA by the end of 2019.

If that strong play continues, I could see Kevin Smith making a major league debut in 2020, as he could be one of the first names to be called upon if there is an injury or a player struggling in the infield on the major league roster.

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With his work ethic and his raw power, Kevin Smith is another top prospect with a ton of upside when looking towards his future. It is his ability to make positive changes at the plate and continuous improvement during the season that should see Smith donning the Blue Jays uniforms in the very near future.