Twins MLB Draft Preview: Pavin Smith, 1B
Image courtesy of Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY SportsWho Is He?
A 6-2, 210-pound lefty out of Jupiter, Fla., Smith made a pretty significant impact for the Cavaliers upon his arrival to campus. Not only did he start every game and lead UVA in hits as a freshman, he also helped lead them to their first ever College World Series Championship. Not too shabby.
Last season, his numbers improved across the board, but he’s really blossomed in 2017. So how does he stack up against McKay? Here’s a quick breakdown of their numbers this season ...
Smith: .346/.429/.571, 12 HR, 72 RBI, 52 R, 36 BB, 9 K
McKay: .363/.481/.705, 17 HR, 52 RBI, 52 R, 42 BB, 33 K
Smith doesn’t have the same eye-popping power numbers, but one thing to take special note of is that last number. Pavin Smith has more home runs than strikeouts this season. That’s bananas.
Of course, McKay facies himself as something of a pitcher as well. All he did was lead the ACC in strikeouts (124) while posting the fourth-lowest ERA in the conference (2.37). But enough on McKay, there will be plenty more on him here at Twins Daily later in the week.
Why The Twins Will Pick Him
Because they're scared of the potential bust factor with every other top prospect in this draft. With Smith, there is no having to try to figure our whether he's going to be a pitcher or a hitter. Really, there's very little to be worried about at all, comparatively speaking.
The Baseball America staff picked Smith as the best college hitter in the draft. Having shown an incredible prowess for handling the bat, Smith appears not only to be one of the safest bets in the draft, but it could be argued he’s the closest to being major league ready. Now I don’t know if we’re talking about ready to take over for Joe Mauer in 2019 ready … but maybe.
Also, it’s worth noting any concern over Smith transitioning over to wood bats can be relieved by the fact that he hit .318/.394/.444 in the Cap Cod League. John Sickels of Minor League Ball put a 60 grade on Smith’s power, calls him an asset at first base, and notes that he draws comps to John Olerud and Eric Hosmer. That’s not the sexiest profile, but he’s got a slab house floor -- no basement.
Another thing that could be working in Smith’s favor that’s it’s possible he’s willing to sign for significantly under slot. Nobody even has him projected to go in the top five (more on that to come), so he's likely flexible. That seems to be an unpopular strategy among Twins fans, but any money saved at the top could be used to sway some more big names in later rounds.
Looking from the outside in and following along with the national media coverage, it would seem like there’s a very low percentage chance the Twins are calling Pavin Smith’s name on June 12. But, remember, this is a brand new Twins front office. We have no historical data on this particular group of decision makers. Anything can happen.
Why The Twins Will Not Pick Him
The lack of projectability/upside hurts his case to be picked at 1:1. The Twins are expected (and rightly so) to be able to find not just a star, but a superstar. It would also seem pretty far-fetched to think the Twins would take Smith over McKay, given his superior performance in the same conference, regardless of whether they think he’ll be a pitcher or a first baseman. And that’s not even taking into account Kyle Wright or any of the great preps in the class.
He’s also not what I’d consider to be a high-skill position player. No offense to first basemen, and I’m not trying to belittle the impact they can make defensively, but they’re just much easier to find than starting pitchers, shortstops, center fielders or catchers.
Keith Law appears to have Smith the highest in his latest mock, pegging him to go to Oakland with the sixth pick. In Baseball America’s latest mock, they had Smith going seventh to Arizona. Same for Ryan Fagan of The Sporting News. Jim Callis of MLB.com has him going eighth to Philadelphia, as does Jay Jaffe of SI.com. Benjamin Chase of Call to the Pen has him going ninth to Milwaukee.
And one last link to share, this one from Twins Daily member Hrbowski, who wrote an excellent and in-depth profile on Smith back in April that is well worth your time.
So, if you’re to believe the experts, there appears to be very little chance the Twins take Smith. What do you think? Should the Twins take aim at one of the higher-upside players in the draft? Or take more of a sure thing like Smith and save a little bit of money to use later in the draft in the process?
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