Name: Pavin Smith
DOB: 2/6/1996 (Age 22)
Acquired: 1st Round, 2017 MLB Draft
Position: First Baseman
Most Notable Tool: Plate Discipline
Season Stats: 120 G, 504 PA, .255/.343/.392, 25 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 54 RBI, 63 R, 57/65 BB/K, 3/5 SB, 101 wRC+
2018 Season Summary: A strong 2018 season would have firmly put Pavin Smith in the Top 100 MLB prospects and likely the top prospect in the farm. That did not happen, as Smith struggled badly the first month and a half of the season and it ended up sinking a lot of his total numbers. I’m not sure how much of it was altering his swing to try to produce more lift, but even after June his ISO was about .130, which will not get it done at the MLB level at his position.
Tools: Hit 45/60, Power 40/55, Speed 40, Defense 45/55
Smith can generate plus exit velocity, but at the same time he has problems keeping the ball off the ground. I still believe the hit tool can project to a plus tool over time because of his ability to recognize what is and what isn’t strikes. Smith is also very good avoiding strikeouts, unfortunately to a fault at times where he swings at a borderline at best pitch and hits into an out on a ball in play vs. a strikeout. I think with better in zone recognition and more LD/FB contact that the power will also improve, he hit 13 HR in a college season so there is definitely room for improvement. His lack of foot speed limits him to 1B defensively, although that position is not blocked long term and Smith can handle the position fine with above average defense potential there.
Upside: Smith has the upside of an above average regular at 1B, assuming the issues he has at the plate are fixed. He’ll need to hit for more power and probably produce about a 110-115 wRC+ at the plate to get to the average regular assuming that baserunning and defense (including position runs) are about 5 runs below average. His strong batting eye at the plate and ability to recognize that a pitch is not a strike quickly will allow him to put up solid walk rates for an OBP skill. If the power is merely average, then to produce solid numbers at the plate he’ll have to show a BABIP skill.
Risk: The biggest risk is Smith becomes too stubborn to alter his approach for his own good. As I mentioned before, Smith hates striking out to a fault where he’ll put a borderline pitch into play for an out. If he takes a borderline pitch and it’s called against him, I’m not going to get too upset over that.
Likely 2019 Assignment: I’d like to see him get another look at Visalia, not necessarily the full season but long enough that he’s showing progress with his swing and hitting more fly balls and extra base hits (I’d like to see an XBH of 8-9% at least). However, my gut tells me the team is going to rush him to AA, where I think he could possibly get exposed by pitchers that know his tendencies. If he shows improvement in the BABIP and power department (I know he’s capable of doing better than what he did in 2018 in those two aspects), then it’s back on the fast track to the majors for Smith.
ETA: 2020 Season