Will Smith heats up
and wins the LAD Farm Factory Award for the week. Smith hit in every game this week, collecting eleven hits, three home runs, five walks, and stole three bases. For the season Smith now has a robust .333 / .421 / .625 triple stat line. Baseball America prospect report pointed out something I had missed. Smith played 2nd base base the past two games.
Will Smith, 2b, Dodgers. The Dodgers drafted Kyle Funkhouser in 2015 and didn’t sign him, but then drafted Funkhouser’s college catcher in 2016. Los Angeles likes Smith’s athleticism so much they’ve tried him at other positions despite his catching prowess, and he’s played second base the past two games. On Sunday, he cracked two homers—his first multi-homer game as a pro—in Rancho’s win over Thaiss and Inland Empire. Smith isn’t known for his power, but does have enough power to his pull side to pop 8-12 a year.
“Being able to be flexible, bouncing around, playing third a little bit, playing second base, playing catcher,” said Quakes manager Drew Saylor, “I think that helps him.”
“I think he has just been doing a very, very good job, offensively, obviously putting up really good at bats,” said Saylor, “not only just hitting, he’s also taking his walks too, which is a very special thing to see.”
This week had a few interesting tidbits:
Top pitching prospect Yadier Alvarez made his anticipated 2017 debut. The debut wasn’t very good but he did better his second start though not something you’d expect from your top pitching prospect. For the week he pitched six innings, gave up thirteen hits, and nine runs. Craig Minami had the report on Alvarez’s second start.
On Saturday night, he struck out the side once and five of six batters in the second and third innings. He was sitting 96-97 mph in the first two innings and 94 mph in the fourth inning. He also showed some impressive off-speed pitches.
2016 number one draft pick Gavin Lux also made his 2017 debut with the Great Lake Loons. Lux played second three games and shortstop one game.
Julio Urias is no longer a prospect but he is toiling in AAA getting ready to join the Dodger rotation. His last start was his best start and he now looks ready. I’m not sure how many innings they saved his arm but I’m sure the 30 LAD analysts have it all figured out so that he can pitch meaningful innings in October, just as they had it all figured out last year.
Eighteen-year-old Keibert Ruiz may be starting to figure things out. He came into the week with only four hits and two walks, he ended the week hitting in five of the six games and collected his first multi-hit game tonight.
Not figuring it out so far has been Eighteen-year-old ONeil Cruz who is finding the challenge of mainland ball, challenging. Cruz has only six hits in almost 60 at-bats. Even worse he’s made nine errors in fifteen games while playing 3rd base. That sounds like he’s making an error on every third play. How many 3rd basemen had double digit errors before May showed up? I’m betting not many. He seems like a good bet to head to the rookie leagues when they open up after the June draft.
Staying with the Loons, Carlos Rincon is tied for first in home runs with six for the Midwest League. Carlos is slowing down as he only hit one home run this week and struck out multiple times, including four, three, and two times in a game.
Cuban import and 2nd baseman Jose Miguel Fernandez has a five-game hitting streak that included two home runs.
Ibandel Isabel hit two home runs and leads the California League with five home runs. That is about all that Isabel is doing. He has struck out 25 times in 54 at-bats.
Walker Buehler threw three more scoreless innings. He’s now made three starts, pitched nine total innings, given up only four hits, zero earned runs, one walk, and fifteen punchouts.