The draft countdown clock is rolling in to the final 10 days and the MLB mocks are shooting out from every direction. The Phillies are in a spot at 8th overall, where they could seemingly go in any direction. They could go to the prep level for the toolsy five tool bats (Adell, Beck) or the the high upside arms (Rogers, Baz, Hall). Most of the buzz lately has the Phillies going the college route. A lot of mocks over the last 5-6 weeks have been pointing to one name in particular: Pavin Smith, who may have the Phillies tossing and turning at night about whether or not they select him.
Smith has been the selection in four different Baseball America and MLB.com mock drafts since mid-April, with MLB.com’s Jim Callis being the most recent to make the connection. And there are countless more in recent weeks that agree that Smith and the Phillies makes a lot of sense. Smith is without question the best bat in this class. As a freshman, he hit .307 hitting in the middle of Virginia’s lineup, helping to lead the school to it’s first ever College World Series title. That season he walked 26 times and struck out 40 times. Those numbers have gotten better each year since that he comes into the NCAA Tournament sporting a 13.8% BB rate and a 3.4% K RATE in 2017! Last year, the lowest K% in MLB was 8.9%. Now he won’t continue that ridiculous pace if he reaches the majors, but he has shown time and time again that he is going to hit. And his power has increased, on top of having a good glove at 1B.
So why would the Phillies have to think about it? There are two reasons in my opinion. First, they may already have their 1B of the future already in either Tommy Joseph or Rhys Hoskins. Adding a 1st round pick who can only play 1B isn’t the most ideal when you already have two of those guys at the top of your organization. The second reason is that since 2000, the have only been five 1B only players selected in the top 10, with varying results. Most of the time in this position you’d either go with the upside arm, the five-tool bat or someone who is versatile to play another position (i.e. Kyle Schwarber). Even with all that said, the Phillies could play this off to land an established star in a trade, as I mentioned yesterday when talking about adding more high quality catching prospects. Make no mistake about it, Pavin is going to be one of the top three targets when the Phillies are on the clock. This will be a test of staying true to the MLB way of drafting the best player available.
Pavin Smith, 1B, University of Virginia
6’2, 210 lb
Previously Drafted: Rockies (2014, 32 Round)
Rankings (as of 6/1/17): MLB.com #8, Baseball America #7, ESPN #7
Good rotation, quick hands, exceptional barrel control. Sprays hard line drives into the gaps, plus pull power. Very patient approach, lays off some tough pitches. Gets good quick first step as a 1B, plus arm strength.
Lead foot over rotates at times; may prevent him from getting to pitches down and away. Not great foot speed.
What the Numbers Say (as of 6/1/17)
2015 (Freshman): 68 G, 307 PA, .307/.363/.467, .333 BABIP, 83 H, 14 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 44 RBI, 38 R, 2/8 SB/attempts, 26 BB (8.5 BB%), 40 K (13 K%), 5 E, .988 Fld%
2016: (Sophomore): 60 G, 274 PA, .329/.410/.513, .327 BABIP, 75 H, 16 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 57 RBI, 43 R, 2/3 SB, 36 BB (13.1 BB%), 23 K (8.4 K%), 7 E, .987 Fld%
2017 (Junior): 56 G, 261 PA, .346/.429/.571, .310 BABIP, 75 H, 11 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 72 RBI, 52 R, 2/2 SB, 36 BB (13.8 BB%), 9 K (3.4 K%), 3 E, .993 Fld%
Smith will hit at the major league level because of his plate selection and his ability to rarely swing and miss. His plus power and line drive approach should allow him to be a 40 2B, 20-25 HR player which would make him an All-Star first baseman and a threat in the middle of a lineup in the three hole or cleanup spot. He will have to be careful about over-swinging and chasing low pitches from pitchers with more advanced pitches which could reduce his home run power to being closer to average than above-average. He also doesn’t have the range or athleticism to have the versatility to move off at first base to play the outfield. Even with those things considered, Smith should be an above-average 1B in the major leagues.