2016 MLB Draft Scouting Report: Will Smith

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Perhaps no player is moving up draft boards quicker than Louisville catcher Will Smith (Photo Courtesy of GoCards.com).

By: Burke Granger

Will Smith – C – Louisville.  6’0″ 192.  Bats: R.  Throws: R.  DOB: March 28, 1995.  Last Drafted:  Never.  

SCOUTED:

Xavier Musketeers @ Louisville Cardinals.  February 28, 2015, Louisville, KY.

Louisville Cardinals @ Ohio State Buckeyes – April 14, 2015. Columbus, Ohio.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Louisville Cardinals.  March 11, 2016, Louisville, KY.

The Cardinals didn’t need to go far to recruit Will Smith, who went to nearby Kentucky Country Day in Louisville where he was a two time all-state performer.  After managing 77  at bats in 39 games as a freshman, Smith opened this 2015 season batting cleanup behind Corey Ray.

The lineup placement didn’t last long, as Smith was inconsistent at the plate as a sophomore producing an OPS of just .664.  When I first saw Smith in February of that 2015 season, I was impressed by his glove, but I didn’t see enough bat to consider him much of a professional prospect.  He’s proven me wrong as a junior, establishing himself as a significant offensive weapon on one of the best teams in the country.

*Stats as of June 6, 2016.

YEAR
AVE
OBP
SLG
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
K
SB/ATT
2014
.221
.333
.273
4
0
0
12
10
9
3/3
2015
.242
.333
.331
8
1
2
15
19
27
2/2
2016
.380
.476
.573
8
0
7
43
18
12
9/10

HITTING: Though Smith doesn’t walk much, he also doesn’t strike out a bunch either.  He’s only struck out 12 times in 150 at bats this season.  Smith makes consistent hard contact to his pull side.

POWER:  Like his hit tool, Smith’s power didn’t show up in games until this season, as his slugging percentage is .300 points higher this year (.573) than it was as a freshman (.273).  With a compact line drive swing, I don’t see much home run projection here.

SPEED:  Though not a burner, Smith runs very well for a catcher.  The significance is that he won’t need to be lifted for pinch runners as a professional.

ARM:  Smith has a strong accurate arm, which is complemented by sound footwork and a quick release.

DEFENSE:  Smith blocks and receives the ball well.  Louisville’s staff has a diverse collection of skills and Smith shows soft hands and confidence to handle whatever they throw at him.

FUTURE:  In a year of polarizing backstops that are either bat first with questions about the glove (Zack Collins, Matt Thaiss) or glove first guys with questions about the bat (Sean Murphy, Cooper Johnson), Smith has appeal in being an all-around catcher; someone who can stick behind the dish with a sound approach at the plate.  Though I saw him multiple times last year, I’d by lying if I said Smith was on my draft radar heading into the season, but his strong offensive campaign and ability to check all the boxes has vaulted him into first day consideration.  Often one of the bigger adjustments for catchers transitioning to pro ball is handling a staff of pitchers that have significantly better stuff than what the catcher is used to receiving.  Having handled a pitching staff made up of three past, present and future first rounders (Kyle Funkhouser, Zack Burdi, and Brendan McCay), Smith’s learning curve shouldn’t be as steep as that of his peers.

DISCLAIMER:  It’s important to note that I’m not a scout.  I don’t have the training or expertise that they do.  I do however actually go to see these guys play live, which is more than you’ll get from many online “Scouting Reports”.  I also talk to scouts when I’m there.  While scouts reserve their reports for their employer, I can share my thoughts with you, the reader.

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2 thoughts on “2016 MLB Draft Scouting Report: Will Smith

  1. Pingback: Live Blogging the 2016 MLB Draft | Prospect Junkies

  2. I know a lot of you braves fans are hating that the braves haven’t taken any bats, but they are taking the best talent available and that’s they way you should draft. And btw I’m pretty sure the braves front office knows more about what they’re doing than you do.

    Like

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