Yes, you always get some interesting results when big leaguers rehab in the minors but we’ve rarely seen a game like Sunday’s between the Dunedin Blue Jays and the Clearwater Threshers, the High-A affiliates of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies, respectively. Dwight Smith, Jr. had a game to remember slugging two solo home runs against major league veteran Cole Hamels.
Cole Hamels was actually pretty good, holding the Dunedin Blue Jays to just three hits and two runs with four strikeouts and no walks in four innings but, if he makes it to the majors while Hamels is still pitching, Hamels is probably not going to want to face the 21 year old from Peachtree City, Georgia after the 5-foot-11 left-handed hitter slammed two homers against him on Sunday.
Smith, a supplementary round draft pick (53rd overall) in the 2011 draft, has flown under the radar for Blue Jays’ prospect watchers. After signing with the Blue Jays out of McIntosh High School for a bonus of $800,000, Smith did very little with Advanced-Rookie Bluefield and Short-Season-A Vancouver in his first professional year in 2012. He hit for an aggregate .212/.279/.315 line in 244 plate appearances with just 14 extra-base hits (with most of the at bats at the lower level).
Smith began 2013 in extended spring training but flew north to Lansing at the end of April and became one of the most consistent and solid contributors to the Lugnuts. Hitting .284/.365/.388 with 25 stolen bases (and was caught only five times) with 17 doubles, three triples and seven home runs. Back on the prospect map, Smith was promoted to Dunedin for 2014 and has continued to hit, opening the season with nine hits in his first 19 at bats, including the two home runs and a stolen base.
While the youngster doesn’t necessarily have the range or arm to play center or right field (especially with Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove center fielder Dalton Pompey playing next to him), his bat is looking better and better as he gains experience in the minor leagues and comes into some of the strength that he shows in his solid build.
For more on Smith and his game to remember, a 5-2 victory over Clearwater that also featured a great pitching performance from the Jays’ highly-rated prospect Daniel Norris, check out Jake Seiner’s article on MiLB.com.