Two of the prospects slated to go in the Top 10 include the University of Virginia’s Adam Haseley and Pavin Smith. Both players are safe MLB projections compared to other players in the draft due to their advanced approach at the plate and solid defense at their respective positions. Both players are also impact bats from the left side, Haseley being more of a top of the order hitter whereas Smith is a middle of the order hitter. I make it no secret that those two are my favorite prospects in the draft because I’m from the state of Virginia and also my mom is a Virginia alum. Now let’s get to the argument of which player makes more sense.
The Diamondbacks have a dearth of talent in their system, especially in the outfield. Anfernee Grier and Marcus Wilson are the only two prospects in the system that could make a difference in the long term, but they’re both at least 3 years away. Wilson is the only player of the two that I believe has All-Star potential, even though I currently classify his upside as an above average starter for now. Haseley is very much like Wilson as a prospect, except spending the last three seasons in college instead of getting drafted and signed.
Haseley has the chance to be a 5-tool player in the outfield. He’s always been an on base machine at the top of their order with a career OBP of .404 and a walk rate of about 13%. In fact, he has more walks (108) than strikeouts (102) in 866 plate appearances in his college career. What’s turned Haseley into a top 10 talent is his increasing power. Haseley as a freshman posted an ISO of .159 as a freshman as part of a successful College World Series run. As a sophomore, the ISO jumped to .198 and .230 as a junior. The fact he’s not only increased his power without sacrificing walks and hasn’t been more strikeout prone is why I think he’s the best college hitter in the draft over his teammate.
Haseley reminds me of another Diamondbacks OF prospect that they drafted 8 years ago in AJ Pollock. While Pollock is right-handed, he was another guy whose total game was better than the individual tools. Haseley doesn’t have any individual tools that grade above 60 on the 20-80 scale, but he plays an all-around strong game.
Smith is another very interesting bat, mostly because of his high floor. Compared to other prospects ranked near him, his upside is significantly less. His floor is James Loney, a left handed hitter with solid OBP skills, but struggles against lefties and doesn’t hit for a lot of power. What makes Smith so tough to face as a hitter is he is virtually impossible to strike out with only 9 whiffs in 256 plate appearances. Smith is another player with average or better tools across the board, with Brandon Belt type upside with 20 HR/20 SB ability while playing gold glove defense at 1B. I’m not sure if he has Anthony Rizzo-level upside though.
Even with a low strikeout rate, Smith is still drawing a large amount of walks, with 36 walks in 2017 and 72 since the start of the 2016 season vs. 32 strikeouts. An advanced eye at the plate from the left side is nothing to sneeze at with an organization who lacks quality left-handed bats. Smith does have a limited XBH profile in college due to fringe-average speed, although playing in the NL West where 90 of 162 games are at Chase and Coors Field gives him a lot of opportunities to rack them up.
Smith is most likely going to end up at 1B defensively although considering the Diamondbacks control Paul Goldschmidt only through the 2019 season, it’s not a big deal. I prefer left-handed throwing 1B overall because of the easier angles to throw the ball to 2nd and 3rd base. I think he has glove glove potential at 1B vs. the outfield where he’s probably an average at best defender. After years of being spoiled by Paul Goldschmidt’s defense at 1B, the next guy might as well be skilled at a position that’s considered bat first.
Conclusion: I prefer Haseley over Smith if both players are on the board with the 7th pick in the draft. Haseley plays at a premium position in CF as opposed to 1B with Smith. In addition to the more important position, Haseley has more upside in regards to being an impact hitter at the MLB level. If Haseley is off the board at 7, I probably take Smith at 7. If both players are off the board, then the team should chase upside with the pick.
Which player do you prefer in the draft?
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