By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.
Part of the 2017 "Smith Brigade" (four "Smiths" played for Buffalo at one point last year), Dwight Smith Jr. comes from big league stock with his dad playing parts of eight years in the big leagues. Smith Jr. was a first-round pick by the Blue Jays out of high school back in 2011 and has steadily worked his way up through the minors since, breaking into the big leagues in 2017.
Moving up to triple-A Buffalo in 2017 was a logical step for Smith who, in two years at double-A, has hit .265/.333/.405 with 50 doubles, seven triples and 22 home runs. Smith played in big league spring training a bit, getting into 15 games, hitting .190/.227/.238 in 21 at bats.
Assigned to Buffalo to start the year, Smith Jr. had a strong start, hitting .338/.400/.527 with five doubles and three home runs in April before hitting .241/.276/.278 for 14 games in May. Still, he was brought up to Toronto in May to play a couple of games during Kevin Pillar's suspension and went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
Back to Buffalo he went where he went 5-for-8 in two games, hitting a home run and driving in four before he got up to the big leagues again, playing in Milwaukee on May 24, going 1-for-1 with his first major league hit, a double.
Returning to Buffalo, Smith played 17 more games with the Bisons, hitting .277/.356/.415 with three doubles and two home runs, walking as many times as he struck out (eight) before he got another call to the show.
Smith took advantage of his time in the majors, hitting .391/.417/.435 with a double in eight games and 23 at bats. He had three hits in a game twice in that span.
Smith went back to Buffalo for the rest of the season and wasn't called up for September. Smith hit .273/.350/.392 in Buffalo, playing in 108 games with 21 doubles, a triple and eight home runs, playing mostly right field (with some left and even two games in center). In Toronto, Smith got into 12 games, coming to the plate 29 times with a .370/.414/.444 slash line but he did strike out in 34.5% of his plate appearances and walked in only 3.4% (compared to 10.5% walk rate and 15.8% strikeout rate in Buffalo).
While he doesn't have the power potential of Teoscar Hernandez or the speed and defensive abilities of Anthony Alford, Smith Jr. has the potential to be a solid fourth major league outfielder if he can show the same kind of patience that he's had in the minors in the majors. With several players ahead of him on the depth charts, though, he may be hard pressed to get a chance in 2018.
Smith has all of 18 days of MLB service time and isn't eligible for arbitration until at least 2021. He's still on the 40-man roster.
2017 Regular Season Grades
Jay Blue: Incomplete
Emily: A (Small Sample Size)
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The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit the Handbook page for more information!