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Transition Monitor: Will Smith

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Will Smith

Double-A Transition Monitor: Will Smith
This isn't a typical Double-A Transition Monitor report, since the player involved reach Double-A in 2003, but a reader requested a look at this guy and it is an interesting case.
Will Smith was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the sixth round in 2000, out of high school in Tucson. He hit .368 in 54 games of rookie ball, then hit .280 with 16 homers in the Midwest League in 2001. '02 was another solid year: .299 with 14 homers. Traded to Texas as part of the Ugueth Urbina deal in July of '03, he hit just .200 in 37 games for Double-A Frisco after the trade. He rebounded to hit .287/.333/.445 for Frisco last year, although limited to 86 games by injury.
Smith has split '05 between Frisco and Triple-A Oklahoma. The results couldn't be different. In 40 games for Frisco, he's hit just .227/.273/.403. But in 33 games for Oklahoma, he's at .328/.390/.630, with 28 RBI, 11 doubles, and seven homers.

Component ratios:
Team AB BB K BB/AB% K/AB%
Frisco-AA 154 10 34 .065 .221
Oklahoma-AAA 119 13 22 .109 .185

As you can see, Smith has shown better plate discipline at Oklahoma than at Frisco, and not surprisingly his performance has been better. However, I think the raw BA/OBP/SLG numbers overstate the improvement, and given the sample sizes simple luck is likely involved here, both bad luck at Frisco and good luck at Oklahoma. If you look at his combined season numbers, you get this

273 AB, 74 hits, 19 doubles, 4 triples, 12 homers, 23 walks, 56 strikeouts, .271 BA, .500 SLG, not far out of line from his previous norms.

It looks like Smith has made some real improvements in the power department this year, boosting his SLG some 60 points compared to '04 and his previous career totals. Can he contribute for the Rangers in '06? Sure. He's still just 23 years old. Good health will be necessary, as he gets hurt a lot. Personally, I don't think he will be a star, but I can see him as a solid contributing player, a guy who can hit .260-.275 with 20 homers in a good year. He might grow beyond that. I'd give him a Grade B- right now.