If you don’t care too much about positioning and care simply only about the bat, then the University of Virginia’s Pavin Smith. Smith is very disciplined at the plate, virtually impossible to strike out and still draws his fair share of walks. He showed decent power potential in college, but not enough to alleviate concerns since he is defensively limited to 1B. The most important tool will be the bat.
Hit: Smith put up a trio of .300+ batting average seasons and has been mostly consistent. Smith should an improvement in generating extra base hits with each year. In his college career drew 100 walks vs. 74 strikeouts, so he shows a good ability to lay off borderline pitches and foul off the tough pitches to take. Grade: 55/60
Power: If there is one tool that’s in question, it’s the amount of pop his bat produces. Smith put up 12 homers in his final year at UVA vs. 15 in the first two years. Smith recorded a similar XBH output as a junior as he did as a sophomore, with doubles turning into homers. Since he doesn’t have great running speed, he’s going to have to split the gaps and hit the ball to and over the fence for XBH opportunities. Grade: 50/55
Run: Smith does not have great running speed, with an average time to 1st of 4.45 and 8.62 from home to 2nd. The lack of great running speed will limit his defensive profile to strictly 1B instead of a corner outfield spot, where I’m not completely sure there is enough bat there to make him more than an above average starter. In terms of baserunning, he’s going to have to be similar to Paul Goldschmidt when it comes to stealing bases and that’s getting huge jumps. Could be a 10 SB threat under the right coaching. Grade: 40/45
Defense: If we’re talking strictly 1B, Smith has a good throwing arm and is left-handed. He has enough mobility to have above average range at the position and having a left-handed thrower at 1B is an advantage for pickoffs and double plays on balls hit to him. Grade: 50/60
Overall: Smith is intriguing because he’s a safe MLB projection, but doesn’t offer a ton of upside beyond an average starter at 1B. Smith will hit for a high average and produce a solid OBP, but there isn’t a lot of pop in the bat to project higher than a B+ upside player. Also, I’m not a fan of drafting 1B in general in the 1st round because 1B should be a last resort defensive position for a bat that is better than what Smith brings to the table. I can’t imagine the Diamondbacks taking him at 7 if other college guys like Adam Haseley or a batter with higher upside in Austin Beck is available with the 7th pick.