|No. 15 — Tyler Smith, SS
|Acquired: Eight Round, 2013 Draft — Oregon State
Smith has generally been completely disregarded is ‘prospectdom’ likely due to the limited fanfare of eighth-round draft picks and especially the lack of that standout tool, such as power or blue-chip athleticism.
Smith can handle shortstop, but won’t impress with great range or flashy plays. He does possess good feet and shows it off around the second-base bag, and the arm strength is plenty for shortstop, or even third base or the outfield
At the plate is where Smith makes his mark, though his strengths in the batter’s box also lack the attention-grabbing explosiveness of highly-ranked prospects. Smith can hit, work counts, push the ball to right-center field and alter his game plan in situations for which it’s called.
There’s enough strength for more power, perhaps approaching the fringe-average range, but the swing is engineered for line drives and contact. Smith makes his mark with advanced pitch recognition, average bat speed, a compact swing and an ability to identify when to adjust his strike zone.
One scout told me: “With the bat, Smith is Stephen Piscotty without the power. He covers the plate and rarely is fooled by location or pitch type.”
Smith has a shot to start 2016 at Triple-A Tacoma, where there’s potential for a logjam at shortstop. Chris Taylor, Luis Sardinas and Shawn O’Malley each warrant some opportunities at the position, though it’s also possible the latter two both make the big club out of spring training.
Smith’s tools suggest he can play not only third base but even make a transition to the outfield. Might a utility role be in his future?