PHOENIX -- Those who showed up early enough to watch batting practice at Chase Field on Saturday may have seen a glimpse of the D-backs' future.Two of the top young players in Arizona's organization, Pavin Smith (ranked No. 1 in the D-backs' system by MLBPipeline.com) and Kristian Robinson (No. 20),
PHOENIX -- Those who showed up early enough to watch batting practice at Chase Field on Saturday may have seen a glimpse of the D-backs' future.
Two of the top young players in Arizona's organization, Pavin Smith (ranked No. 1 in the D-backs' system by MLBPipeline.com) and Kristian Robinson (No. 20), joined the D-backs for batting practice and met with players and coaches before Saturday's matchup with the Marlins.
"It was the second time I had met Kristian, and now meeting Pavin, I can understand why these guys are special," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "They're very physical, strong young men. On top of that, they're very well-spoken and confident. I'm excited about having them in the system."
Smith was the D-backs' top pick in the 2017 MLB Draft and the No. 7 pick overall. The University of Virginia product earned first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors with the Cavaliers this year and found instant success once he was assigned to the Class A Short-Season Hillsboro. He hit .318 with 27 RBIs in 51 games and walked more than he struck out (27 walks, 24 K's) while playing first base for the Hops.
"It was fun," Smith said of his first pro season. "Some ups and downs, you know, the grind of playing every day. ... I think with everybody in baseball, adversity is inevitable and you've just got to be able to deal with that. I think college helped with that definitely. Going through some slumps, going through some highs, some lows, just being able to manage it all."
Robinson, who hails from the Bahamas and is ranked as the No. 15 international prospect, signed with the D-backs on July 2 for $2.55 million. The 16-year-old caught the attention of D-backs' Latin American scouting director Cesar Geronimo two years ago during an exhibition game in Florida, and Robinson said he felt an immediate connection with the D-backs.
"I remember looking at him in the stands," he said of Geronimo. "They encourage you not to look at the scouts in the stands, but I saw him and just saw that he saw something different in me. I kept an upbeat rhythm in my game, and then after the showcases, [the D-backs] just had the best option for me and my family."
Robinson stands 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and is considered a five-tool prospect by many scouts, with his speed and power thought to be the most promising aspects of his game.
Both players are expected to spend the fall with the D-backs' instructional league team.
"What I expressed to them was, even though they're not here at the big league level," Lovullo said. "What this organization does a really good job of is informing us of what's happening throughout the entire system. ... So, they're not very far away. In today's game, it's not uncommon that a college draftee will be here within a year. You look at Andrew Benintendi, [Michael Conforto] and [Kyle Schwarber]; these guys race through the system. We like the idea that they're here and getting comfortable and understanding what this level is all about."
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix.