The 2017 first-rounder is a divisive prospect; there’s no dispute over his ability to hit, but there has been little in the way of power so far. At 22 years old and with limited physical projection left, the profile seems like the always-shaky “average-over-power” first baseman. In my 2017 looks, Smith showed patience to the point of passivity. This spring and last week, however, he was much more aggressive: he didn’t let himself take down to two strikes nearly as much, especially when he saw a fastball in the zone. Smith’s swings at early-count pitches were more power-oriented than his standard line- stroke.
The results weren’t there for a large portion of my look last week, as it appears he is still getting used to this new damage-focused approach. If Smith is indeed trying to focus more on power and lift, he’ll likely sacrifice some hit tool in order to get there. Still, his feel for the barrel got him drafted in the top 10 for a reason, and I still see an above-average hitter at the big league level. After seeing him drive a ball way out deep to his pullside, I’m more confident this approach allows the ability to tap into the 55-grade raw power he shows in batting practice. While he’s low on the defensive spectrum, Smith is a sure-handed defender at first who moves well for his size. All the ingredients are here for an everyday player at first, though the bat and newfound power potential will have to carry the profile up the ladder.