Blue Jays: What does the future hold for prospect Kevin Smith?
The Toronto Blue Jays possess a strong farm system, one that boasts some potential everyday players at almost every level and a few who could rise above and lead the future roster.
The Blue Jays top 30 prospect list boasts 13 pitchers, two catchers, 11 infielders, and four outfielders, with multiple players splitting time between the infield/outfield like Austin Martin, Otto Lopez, and Samad Taylor. Catcher Alejandro Kirk and right-hander Alek Manoah have recently graduated from the list with lefty Nick Allgeyer and Taylor being moved into slots #29 and #30 respectively.
One of the Blue Jays prospects who is playing well this season is shortstop Kevin Smith, ranked #27 prospect on the Jays top prospect list. The infielder has spent the entire 2021 season in AAA with the Buffalo Bisons, leading the team with his .974 OPS and slashing .289/.383/.591 on the campaign.
Defensively, Smith sports a .964 fielding percentage at shortstop through 42 games with six errors and a .968 fielding percentage through 11 games at third base with one error. He has recently spent some time in left field for a total of four games with the Bisons. The New York product also leads the team in home runs (16), walks (34), RBI (51), and games played (61), putting together a strong campaign after a rough 2019 season.
With the first half of the season in the rearview mirror, Blue Jays prospect Kevin Smith has worked his way to being close to the major league stage. With the club’s current roster stocked with infield talent, should the Jays consider moving him this trade deadline?
As a member of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2019 (with the 2020 season canceled), Smith struggled to put the ball in play, slashing .209/.263/.402 with 151 strikeouts and a .666 OPS. Ranked as high as #6 back in 2018, this tough campaign saw Smith not only drop on the rankings board but also forced him to go back to the drawing board.
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With the hot start to the season, the University of Maryland product is starting to knock on the major league door, a notion that gets a bit complicated given a variety of factors in the Blue Jays organization.
The first complication for Smith making the Blue Jays roster is that he is currently not on the 40-man roster.
With the current roster starting to get a bit jammed with players returning from the injured list and prospects needing spots to make the majors, the matter only gets more complicated if Ross Atkins gets busy at the trade deadline and deals some prospect depth for active roster talent (addition with no subtraction if you will).
Unless someone from the 40-man gets traded like Kirk or Lopez, it will be tough for Smith to find a spot on the roster. There is the potential that a pitcher or a depth player like Breyvic Valera or Jonathan Davis could be placed on the 60-day IL or designated for assignment to make room for him but that is difficult to predict.
Secondly, the Blue Jays also have a very solid option at the bench infielder position with Santiago Espinal. Like Smith, the Dominican product is also having a great season, slashing .328/.371/.431 through 124 plate appearances, filling in across the infield when required off the bench.
Smith’s route to the roster would most likely be a bench role with Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, Marcus Semien, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. currently manning the infield. If Espinal was having a rough season I could see arguing a potential switch with Smith (if he can find a 40-man spot) but the team should run with the better player, and right now that is Espinal. An injury to the roster could be his opportunity to make the show this season if one of the infielders gets hurt over the second half.
This brings up a very good question: should the Blue Jays consider trading Smith this season as the club tries to improve the team for another playoff run?
It’s no secret that the Blue Jays need some pitching help, and while the righty-batter would not snag a high-caliber player on his own (not too many prospects can), the hot 2021 season has definitely improved his value as he appears to be very close to a potential major league call up.
Packaged alongside some other prospects/players, Smith could help get a high-profile deal completed that sees an impact starter or reliever join the Blue Jays for a playoff push this year.
With Espinal and the Blue Jays young infield core blocking his path and fellow infield prospects Jordan Groshans, Miguel Hiraldo, and Orelvis Martinez right on his heels, the organization could move Smith this year and not put too much of a dent into the farm system’s stock.
Should the Blue Jays promote or trade prospect Kevin Smith this year?