As we get closer to 2020, FH Freeway takes a look at some prospects you should keep an eye on next season. Today we go over New York Yankees prospect Canaan Smith.
Players to Watch: Canaan Smith
Yankees prospect Canaan Smith was a two-sport athlete (baseball and football) in high school, and was lauded before the 2017 MLB Draft for his loud tools and raw potential. Smith was drafted in the 4th round by the Yankees in 2017, and was given an above-slot bonus ($497,500 bonus, $64,400 more than slot) to sign. Upon signing, Smith was sent to the GCL, where he put up an .853 OPS in 57 games, while walking more than striking out (46 BB/44 SO).
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After an impressive first pro season, Smith moved to Staten Island (SS-A) where he struggled quite a bit. Smith batted just .191, and he also seemingly got away from his disciplined approach at the plate. Smith struck out 52 times in 45 games while walking 19 times, which could be attributed to timing and chasing issues he had at the plate in 2018, as well as an undisclosed injury he suffered in July.
2018 was a rough season for Smith, but he had a nice rebound year in 2019. This past season with Charleston (A), Smith batted .307 while hitting 46 XBH (32 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR) in 124 games with the Riverdogs. Smith also got back to his disciplined approach, as he led the South Atlantic League in walks (74) and was third in the league in OPS (.871).
Smith’s success last season can be attributed in part due to his physical build. Standing at 6’0” and 215 pounds, Smith looks a bit stocky, but he has a strong frame. With that build, he has natural power and it showed last season, slugging .465 last season. The key is whether or not he’ll be able to consistently turn his plus raw power into game power.
In terms of speed, Smith did steal 16 bases last season. He doesn’t look like someone who can beat teams on the basepaths, but he is pretty athletic given his build. Still, I wouldn’t expect him to be a big basestealer as he moves up the ranks given his size.
What to Watch For in 2020
Smith should definitely be a prospect on your watch list for 2020. Smith has a lot of raw power, and it’ll be interesting to see how much he’ll hit after the strong season he put together in 2019. It’ll also be interesting how much he will hit in the Florida State League, as Smith will most likely start the year with Tampa (A+).
Another interesting thing to watch in his game is whether he can stick to his approach at the plate. Smith last season proved he can make pitchers work, and while it’s pretty impressive that he has such strong plate discipline despite only playing baseball full-time since 2017, he was prone to moving away from that approach in 2018. If he continues to display a strong eye at the plate next season, it’ll show that’s he become a more consistent and disciplined hitter, and it will certainly help his standing among talent evaluators.
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