It’s time for the second installment of breaking down what Keith Law said about the Dodgers’ catching situation! In his most recent chat, Law said he believes top prospect Will Smith will be the starting catcher by the all-star break.
Bilal: who’s getting the bulk of the starts behind the plate for the Dodgers by the All-Star break: Barnes, Smith or Ruiz?
Keith Law: Smith.
Smith is a 23-year-old catcher drafted by the Dodgers out of Louisville in the 1st round of the 2016 draft. He currently ranks anywhere from #5 to #8 on the Dodgers’ top 10 list depending on which publication you look at.
Although Smith is not currently on the 40-man roster like fellow catcher Keibert Ruiz, he is ahead of Ruiz on their track to the big leagues. Ruiz was already added to protect him from the Rule-5 Draft.
Smith hit .264/.358/.532 with 18 homers and a 141 wRC+ in his breakout season for the AA Tulsa Drillers. After being promoted to AAA Oklahoma City near the end of the season, he struggled in a small sample of games. When the minor league season ended, the Dodgers brought him to Los Angeles to be around and learn from the major league team. He will likely start the 2019 season in AAA and could be fast-tracked to the majors depending on how Barnes and Martin do.
Defensively, Smith is an excellent receiver with a strong and accurate arm. He was known as a defense-first catcher in college but a swing change allowed him to unlock more of his power. The athletic and versatile Smith has played third base for the Dodgers organization and has even played center field in college and in the Arizona Fall League.
Smith’s ceiling is probably similar to Russell Martin as they are both athletic, versatile, and strong defenders with plus power in their bat. A more likely scenario is he becomes a more athletic Yan Gomes. Either way, the Dodgers have a very talented, young catcher close to taking the starting job.
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