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Pavin Smith - 2017 MLB Draft

Posted by Hrbowski , 20 April 2017 · 1,958 views

Posted Image
Courtesy of Getty Images

Pavin Smith is a first baseman for the Virginia Cavaliers who is the best college hitter available in the draft. Smith is 6’2” and weighs 210 pounds, with a sweet swing that brings Jay Bruce to mind. The Florida native played baseball at Palm Beach Gardens High School and was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 32nd round of the 2014 draft, but he did not sign. Smith is a left-handed hitter who is athletic enough to play the corner outfield, but he profiles better at first base. His draft status is rising this spring, and when examining him it is easy to see why.

His greatest tool is his hit tool, which continues to get better with more experience. Smith has great control of the bat head, and scouts believe that he will be able to adjust to a wood bat well. He has only five strikeouts in his first 156 at bats, which is a result of his mature approach at the plate. Smith has a swing that is made for line drives, but since he uses a wide stance he may need to incorporate a higher leg kick to increase his exit velocity. He rotates his hips well and has a very strong body, so I would not be surprised if his swing works against professional pitching as it is.

Smith has above average power that has started to show up in games this year. In his first two years of college he did not hit a lot of home runs, but he has already set a career high in 2017, which is even more impressive when you consider that he plays in an extreme pitchers’ park. Smith has hit well against the best pitching in this draft class, including Brendan McKay, but J.B. Bukauskas was able to accomplish the feat of striking him out. Also, he is an above average defender at first base, and if a team wants to move him to the outfield he has a strong enough arm to play right, which was evident in his high school days when he sat in the low nineties from the mound. Smith has a good makeup, and is regarded as having a good understanding of the game.

The Twins have been linked to Smith this year, and he is under consideration to be taken with the first pick. If Minnesota takes Smith they could sign him for considerably less that slot value, which would allow them to get more creative with their other top picks. Taking the Cavaliers first baseman would be following the Cubs’ model of taking the best college hitter available, which has worked out well for them. Many in the industry are uncomfortable with taking a first baseman when you have the first pick, with it having been seventeen years since one was taken, when the Marlins took Adrian Gonzalez. Currently Smith is not the favorite to be taken with the first pick, but he has helium right now.

After examining him, it is no surprise that he is viewed as the top hitter in the draft. Smith does have his doubters, with the number one complaint against him being that he will not be as valuable as someone who can play up the middle. I would like to remind these people that there are many great defensive players who’s chance to play in the major leagues are stunted by their bat, but there are few great hitters who are prevented from playing in the majors by their defense. Although I have nothing against the revolution of putting more emphasis on better defense, I believe that it is causing lineups to be ignored in the most important part of a position player’s game, offense. The team that drafts Pavin Smith will get plenty of it.

Old Twins Cap
Apr 20 2017 07:11 PM

First I've heard of him.


But, thanks.

Thanks for the great write up. 

Very cool.  Depending on what/who would be able to drop to us at 35, I'd be ok with Smith.  

I just stumbled across your blog here on Smith and had to throw my 2 cents in9for whatever that means). I actually live in Baltimore and took the 3 hour trip at the beginning of the month to UVA to watch the Louisville Cardinals play the Cavs with the sole purpose of looking at McKay and Smith. First of all, I had a chance to see McKay pitch his freshman year and it was pretty evident that he was going to be a 1st round pick for someone when he decided to enter the draft. But on the night he pitched in Virginia, his pitches were high in the strike zone and seemed to have problems with the command of his fastball. Now, granted, the game started 3 hours late due to rain and it was about 30 degrees outside so we could say that the elements played a factor but he wasn't as crisp on the mound. Saying that, even when he got into trouble he never allowed a run to score and he kept his poise through his 6 innings of work.


Smith had a HUGE weekend against the Cardinals including two nice singles off McKay on that Friday night. On Saturday he hit a grand slam which really seemed to get his season started for him where I believe he is now either 4th or 5th in the NCAA in RBI. I also seen another stat on him recently where he actually has more homeruns (10) than strikeouts (5) on the season.


If I had the 1st pick in the draft the determination between these two players would be where I evaluated McKay. Will he be a pitcher at the next level or do teams see him as a hitter. I ran into one scout at UVA who was associated with the AL East who told me that they were still debating on how they saw Brendans future. If McKay is a pitcher than he absolutely should be taken ahead of Smith. He is a top 5 talent in this draft. If McKay is seen as a 1st baseman than not only should Smith be considered for the 1st pick, I believe his name will be called ahead of McKay on most boards.