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Smith confident he can do more at plate

Catcher expects to hit for more power in 2018
October 31, 2017

CHICAGO -- The .283 average produced by catcher Kevan Smith for the 2017 White Sox should be considered a breakout performance after parts of seven seasons spent in the club's farm system.But the 29-year-old believes there's more ahead, offensively."There's a lot of power in the tank, and I want to

CHICAGO -- The .283 average produced by catcher Kevan Smith for the 2017 White Sox should be considered a breakout performance after parts of seven seasons spent in the club's farm system.
But the 29-year-old believes there's more ahead, offensively.
"There's a lot of power in the tank, and I want to explore those options," said Smith during a recent interview. "Just more home runs, more extra-base hits.
"I'm happy with where the average is and where the strikeout numbers were down. I thought I did a good job of being a little more patient at the plate. The walks didn't really show how I felt patience-wise at the plate, but there's always going to be something. Even if I play 15 years, that 15th year there will be something to work on that offseason."
Smith knocked out four home runs and 17 doubles over 294 plate appearances. He fanned 46 times against nine walks, but he described his season as "rewarding" and "a natural high" being able to prove he could play at the highest level.
Needed adjustments were made at the plate by Smith, adjustments which he can tweak mentally and mechanically during the offseason, and improve as a hitter coming into 2018.
"More so, just see the baseball," said Smith of his 2017 adjustments. "We tend to get away from actually the baseball and we start thinking about mechanical things and what we need to do. What I focused on is finding a swing that allows the least amount of movement. I'm not a big movement guy when I hit, like a [Josh] Donaldson or [Jose] Bautista or a guy like that.
"As much as I would love to hit like one of those guys, it's just not in my DNA. I like to keep as still as possible and have as much time to recognize what these pitchers are throwing, because they are pretty nasty these days. I'm a big contact guy. I don't like striking out."
Omar Narvaez and Smith combined to hit .280 with six homers, 44 RBIs and 27 doubles as the primary White Sox catchers, with Narvaez contributing a .373 on-base percentage. Zack Collins, the team's top pick in the 2016 Draft, rates as the catcher of the future and could be with the team by '19.

In the interim, a talented player such as Smith carries the confidence gained into his next challenge.
"I certainly never doubted myself," Smith said. "The hard part was I was never mentioned really, I felt like, when catchers were talked about or this or that. I was kind of always put on the backburner as maybe not a prospect, not this young 20-year-old coming up through the system. But I know I had the experience. I knew I had the ability.
"Just put my head down and wanted to prove those people wrong who really didn't believe what I could do. That kind of fueled my fire. But you can't let those kinds of things distract you. You hear them, you see them, but you have to believe in yourself. You have to believe in the work you put in and just go out and let everything take care of itself."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.