Austen Smith, OF
Weekly Stats: 13-31 (.419), 3 2B, 6 RBI, 7 BB, 6 K, SB
A 33rd round draft pick out of Alabama in 2014, Smith has taken the Marlins’ organization by storm in his first two seasons as a pro. After a successful campaign in rookie ball, one in which he led the GCL Marlins (among those with at least 20 games played) in OBP (.408), slugging (.667), homers (7) and RBIs (34), Smith made the jump to Greensboro and his first full season. With the Hoppers so far, Smith has continued to rake and shows no evidence that he will slow down any time soon. On the season so far, Smith is hitting .274/.396/.508 with 8 homers 21 RBIs. His .874 OPS ranks second in the entire Sally League as do his .514 SLG and seven long balls. What is most impressive about Smith’s 2015 season so far is in 35 of the 40 games he has played, he has reached base safely. In 32 games, he has had at least one hit and nine of his games have been multi-hit efforts.
Smith is a beastly 6’4″ 240 specimen with prototypical power to match. While he could use to cut down on his strikeout totals and improve upon his plate presence, when he connects, he makes you forget all about those facts. And he connects a lot. In his final college season with the Crimson Tide he led his team in homers and doubles. Last season, he lead the GCL Marlins in longballs and currently leads the Hoppers with 9, on pace to hit 32.
At the plate, Smith uses his extra large frame to generate extra large strength but also maintains his pre-swing looseness well. His terrific bat speed and strong hands allow him to get around well on any pitch and allow the ball to jump off his bat. With a straight away open stance, Smith prefers the pull variety of hitting but has the ability to spread the ball around to all fields. For a Marlins team which has struggled to find power production outside of anyone not named Giancarlo Stanton this year and a team that has finished in the bottom six or worse in its last four seasons in power numbers leading up to this one, Smith is a breath of fresh air that, should he remain healthy (he was hampered by injuries both in high school and college), could be placed on the fast track to the major leagues.
Looking at Smith’s build, you would think he doesn’t have eligibility anywhere but first base. However, he is a surprisingly decent outfielder. In high school he clocked in at 7.36 in the 60 yard run and has flashed an arm with good strength and carry that projects well. Though he will continue to see most of his PT at 1B where he has shown off the same arm as well as good range and flair especially for a 240 pounder, his athletic ability has and will continue to get him looks in left field.
The bottom line on Smith is that he is currently one of if not the best pure power bat in the Marlins’ system who plays two defensive positions with athletic prowess. Should his bat continue to produce this brand of power throughout this year, he should start 2016 in high A Jupiter. Should it continue there, he could see time with the Suns in the second half of the year. He could ultimately be playing alongside Giancarlo Stanton in 2017, a combo that could prospectively combine for 80 homers and end Miami’s long tenure of being cellar dwellers in their power hitting endeavors. In other words, the mammoth Smith should both literally and figuratively not be taken lightly.