MLB Draft Preview: SS Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith – SS

Ht: 6’0″        Wt: 188        Year: Jr.         Bats/Throws: R/R

Hometown (HS): East Greenbush, N.Y. (Columbia High School)

2017 Stats: 

G: 51     PA: 210    Slash Line: .269/.324/.538     HR: 11       RBI: 42     K-rate: 21.4 %      BB-rate: 6.2 %

Junior Kevin Smith singles to left field 10/21/2016 Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network

Background: Kevin Smith came to Maryland as a freshman in 2015 and immediately made in impact, appearing in all 66 of the Terps’ games and starting in 65 of them. He finished the season with a .273 average, seven home runs, 35 RBIs and 11 stolen bases, ranking in the top four on the team in each of these categories.  Following the success in 2015, Smith continued his success as Maryland’s starting shortstop in his sophomore season. He was one of two Maryland players to start all 57 games in 2016, and put up impressive power numbers. Smith led the team with 95 total bases, and ranked second behind Marty Costes in homers (8) and RBIs (34). He did see a dip in average (.259) and walks (16 in 259 PA) but his strong season overall earned him a spot on the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List for best college shortstop.

Setting himself apart last summer, Smith played for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the Cape Cod League where he he posted a .301 with 14 RBIs en route to being named a CCBL All-Star. In the playoffs, he went 6-for-12, earning League Championship Series MVP honors as the Red Sox won their third straight CCBL title. His performance on the Cape led him to be named’s Summer Breakout Prospect and the best defensive infielder in the CCBL by Perfect Game. Going into the 2017 season, Smith was named a Preseason First-Team All-American by both Baseball America and Perfect Game.

This season, Smith posted the best power numbers of his career, hitting .269 with 11 homers, 10 doubles, 42 RBIs and a .538 slugging percentage. He now has 26 career home runs, tying him with John McCurdy for tenth all-time in Maryland history. While he had an up-and-down regular season, Smith came on strong in the Big Ten Tournament, going 7-for-20 with five RBIs, including a clutch three-run double that lifted Maryland over Purdue in an elimination game.

Outlook: With high expectations as a potential first round draft prospect, Smith and the Terps got off to a slow start this season. Maryland lost five of their first six games in the 2017 season and Smith struggled at the plate. Right as Smith started to get back on track, he missed seven games at the beginning of April due to an injury. When he returned, he struggled to stay consistent, but ultimately his power made him a key piece in the Terps’ lineup, as he led the team in home runs and RBIs. While the power was there, he failed to replicate the high average he posted in the Cape, as he hovered between .250 and .270 for most of the season, a mark consistent with the rest of his collegiate career. As he did in 2016, Smith continued to struggle with strikeouts, as his 21.4 percent K-rate this season was the highest of his career, while his 13 walks ranked last among Maryland regulars.

Junior Kevin Smith prepares to field a ball. Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network 3/12/2017

Despite the lack of average, Smith’s draft stock remains relatively high. He continues to impress on defense, and this combined with his pop at the shortstop position balances out his inconsistency at the plate. Additionally, he has shown the ability to hit for a high average, with his impressive season in the CCBL last summer. While his swing-and-miss tendencies may have dropped him out of the first round, he still has the potential to be an everyday shortstop with solid offensive production at the professional level.

He has consistently been ranked in the Top 100 MLB Draft prospects throughout the season: Baseball America ranks him 71st and ranks him 78th. With the potential he has shown offensively over the past few years, he is very likely to go in the first five rounds of this year’s draft.