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D-backs recall 1B/OF Smith, DFA Lamb

@SteveGilbertMLB
September 10, 2020

The D-backs' youth movement continued Thursday as the club designated infielder Jake Lamb for assignment and selected the contract of former first-round Draft pick Pavin Smith from its alternate training site. Smith, 24, was taken by Arizona with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, and after

The D-backs' youth movement continued Thursday as the club designated infielder Jake Lamb for assignment and selected the contract of former first-round Draft pick Pavin Smith from its alternate training site.

Smith, 24, was taken by Arizona with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, and after a slow start at Double-A Jackson last year, he took off and finished with an .835 OPS.

A recent left wrist injury to second baseman/center fielder Ketel Marte has opened up some at-bats, which was one of the reasons the D-backs decided to give Smith this opportunity. Smith, Arizona's No. 28 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is primarily a first baseman, but he can also play all three outfield positions.

“Pavin does an unbelievable job of controlling the [strike] zone,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “He has worked his way through player development and grown and learned season by season. He is ready for this opportunity. He has created this opportunity because of the hard work he has put in. We want him to continue to do the exact same things he has done his entire Minor League career, and we want to just introduce him to this level of pitching and this level of competition. We want to see what it looks like.”

Smith has not been known as a power hitter, but as more of a gap-to-gap type. However, he has made some mechanical tweaks this summer that have increased his power. The biggest was getting his front foot down early, which allows him to stay behind the ball more and get the ball into the air.

“I think every step of my game,” Smith said when asked what he’s improved this summer. “The defense [and] mainly getting the ball in the air more. Staying behind the ball, seeing the ball. I made a couple adjustments to my swing. It was something that I might not have been able to do during the season. I’m pretty grateful for this time where you get to tinker around and experiment a little bit.”

According to general manager Mike Hazen, Smith has also transformed his body starting last offseason, becoming quicker and faster. As a result, the D-backs feel comfortable putting Smith in center field if need be, rather than just first base or a corner-outfield spot, though he will focus on first and left field for now.

“I think he’s lost some weight, he’s definitely changed his body composition,” Hazen said. “Good for him in doing it. He has now given us four positions we can play him at instead of one.”

Another one on the way
The D-backs will make another roster move Friday, when they're planning to call up left-hander Caleb Smith from their alternate training site to start against the Mariners.

Smith, who was acquired 10 days ago in the Trade Deadline deal that sent Starling Marte to the Marlins, will take the rotation spot of Alex Young, who will move to the bullpen.

Smith has made only one appearance in the big leagues this year, as he started for Miami on July 25 and tossed three innings. He tested positive for COVID-19 as part of the Marlins' early season outbreak, and he had been building back up his pitch count at Miami's alternate training site at the time of the trade.

Since joining the D-backs, Smith experienced some mid-body soreness, according to Lovullo, so he will likely be on a limited pitch count Friday, something the manager did not want to discuss in order to provide a strategic advantage.

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