The Los Angeles Dodgers have reaped the benefits of their consensus top-three farm system this season, receiving contributions from a plethora of rookies and young players. Among those to make an impact is Will Smith, who enjoyed tremendous success right out of the gate.
After a promising MLB debut against the New York Mets, the 24-year-old went on to hit .318/.392/.818 with eight doubles, 12 home runs and 31 RBI over his first 28 games. Most notably, he became the first Dodgers player in franchise history with 10 home runs through 25 career games.
Smith shattered multiple individual records during the stretch while additionally helping L.A. make further history with the most walk-off home runs hit by rookies in a single season.
Despite the relatively small sample size, one National League scout already considers Smith the best all-around catcher in the sport and compared him to longtime San Francisco Giants backstop Buster Posey, via Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
“He just might be the best all-around catcher in the game right now,” one veteran National League scout told USA TODAY Sports. “This kid can do it all. He has the soft hands. The great arm. The quick release. The bat. The power. The easy comparison is to Buster Posey, but he’s going to be better. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with what he’s doing behind the plate. It’s one thing to come up and help a team in a pennant race, but to do it as a catcher? My God.”
While it’s probably too soon to make such a judgement, Smith has certainly exceeded expectations in the early portion of his Dodgers career. At the midway point of August, he surpassed Cody Bellinger for most home runs (nine) and RBI (24) through a player’s first 23 games in franchise history.
Since then, however, Smith has fallen into a bit of a slumber. He is batting just .125 with one home run, three RBI, three walks and 16 strikeouts over his last 40 plate appearances (12 games, nine starts).
Recognizing the drop in production, the 24-year-old recently tinkered with his hitting mechanics, leading to optimism from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts that he will soon break out of his slump.
In 42 overall games this season, Smith is hitting a productive .271/.342/.636 with eight doubles, 13 home runs and 34 RBI over 146 plate appearances.
The young catcher has accumulated 1.6 FanGraphs’ WAR for his efforts — good for 12th among MLB backstops with a minimum of 140 plate appearances.