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Smith ranked 3rd among first-base prospects

D-backs impressed with feel for strike zone in 1st pro season
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- When the D-backs selected Pavin Smith with the No. 7 overall pick in last year's Draft, the club believed his ability to hit at the University of Virginia would translate to pro ball.

That proved to be the case as Smith slashed .318/.401/.415 in 222 plate appearances in 2017 for Class A Short Season Hillsboro of the Northwest League.

PHOENIX -- When the D-backs selected Pavin Smith with the No. 7 overall pick in last year's Draft, the club believed his ability to hit at the University of Virginia would translate to pro ball.

That proved to be the case as Smith slashed .318/.401/.415 in 222 plate appearances in 2017 for Class A Short Season Hillsboro of the Northwest League.

Smith ranks as the No. 3 prospect at first base in the MLB Pipeline Top 10 behind Brendan McKay of the Rays and Ryan McMahon of the Rockies.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

"He just has the ability to take a professional at-bat," D-backs farm director Mike Bell said. "He swings at good pitches, he's able to lay off the bad ones and that's ultimately what you want to do as a hitter. He's just got a really good feel to hit and knows how to put together a good at-bat. He's just a mature hitter."

The 21-year-old Smith demonstrated his feel for the strike zone with 27 walks and just 24 strikeouts.

"That's hard to do and it's even harder to do in your first year," Bell said. "That's extremely impressive."

Defensively, Smith has shown good footwork around the bag to go with soft hands and a strong arm.

"You don't think about that too much from a first baseman," Bell said of Smith's arm. "But it's important to have that and he's got a strong, accurate arm."

The one thing Smith did not show his first year of pro ball was power. He hit 13 homers in his final year for the Cavaliers, but he did not hit one with Hillsboro, though Smith did have 15 doubles.

"I know he didn't hit for power, but it's in there," Bell said. "The ball comes off his bat really well. He finds the barrel plenty. The power will come. He's going to hit some home runs. He finds the barrel too much and hits the ball too hard not to."

As a polished college hitter, Smith is likely going to be a quick riser through the system. With Paul Goldschmidt under contract for the next two seasons there is no reason to rush Smith, but there seems little doubt he's on his way.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks