Yesterday, the Atlanta Braves placed outfielder Ender Inciarte on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Outfield prospect Mallex Smith was promoted to replace him. Here's what to expect from the newest Brave.
From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Mallex Smith, OF, Atlanta Braves
Bats: L Throws: R HT: 5-9 WT: 170 DOB: May 6, 1993
2015: Grade C+
Acquired from the Padres in the winter 2015 Justin Upton trade, Mallex Smith had no problem adapting to the upper levels of the Braves farm system and should see the majors sometime in 2016. His scouting reports are exactly what you’d expect with these numbers: he’s blazing fast, makes contact, will draw an occasional walk, but lacks distance power. He’s made strides defensively and did a good job reducing miscues and making more accurate throws last year, though his instincts are still not as good as his raw speed. Projection for the majors depends on power. He doesn’t have to hit home runs but will he show enough doubles/triples pop to keep the respect of the pitchers? If he does, he’s a regular and a strong leadoff man. If he doesn’t, he’ll be a fourth outfielder. My take is that he plays regularly and is somewhere along the Ben Revere/Denard Span continuum. Grade B.
Smith received 26 at-bats in major league spring training camp, hitting .346/.393/.808 with three doubles, three triples, one homer, two walks, seven strikeouts, and a pair of stolen bases. He was 6-for-15 (.400) with a stolen base in his first three games for Gwinnett in the Triple-A International League, on top of the .281/.339/.367 line he rang up there in 69 games last summer. Promoting him was the logical move.
Smith's 80-grade speed is his standout tool and he combines that with a decent sense of the strike zone, making him attractive at the top of the order. He will never be a big home run guy but I am increasingly confident that there's enough gap power in the bat for him to be a good solid regular akin to Denard Span or Michael Bourn. There's little left for him to prove at the minor league level.
I'd eyeball him at .270/.330/.370 with 20+ steals in regular playing time. That would be similar to Bourn in his rookie year (.277/.348/.378) but weaker than Span in his (.294/.387/.432). Note that Bourn and Span were 24-year-old rookies while Smith is still just 22, so Mallex has time to grow into what they eventually became.