Pavin Smith - 2017 MLB Draft
Posted by Hrbowski , 20 April 2017 · 1,508 views
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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.