You will not find Arizona Diamondbacks top-10 pick Pavin Smith in the organization’s top-10 prospects.
You have to get all the way into the 20s, No. 24 exactly, to locate him on MLB Pipeline’s top-30 for the D-backs in 2020.
Smith, the No. 7 overall pick in 2017 out of Virginia, had a rough first two years in Arizona’s minor league system that saw him quickly fall off as a highly-touted prospect.
But after a bounce-back campaign midway through his third season in the minors, Smith is back on the radar as a prominent prospect.
D-backs director of player development Josh Barfield discussed Smith’s ups and downs on the D-backs BP Show Tuesday.
“It wasn’t that bad, it was just the expectations you have when a guy is picked that high,” Barfield said.
Barfield credited a change the organization saw from Smith heading into the spring of 2019, aka the last time the D-backs had spring training.
“He really, really worked hard on not only his swing but also his body and getting himself into better shape,” Barfield said. “And when he showed up into spring training, he looked different, carried himself different.
“You could tell right there, ‘OK, this is the guy that we drafted and he figured something out.’”
In that spring, Smith hit 8-for-21 (.381 batting average) over 13 Cactus League games.
While he did carry that success over to his regular season, it took a while for Smith to do so in Double-A, something Barfield noted was due to the adjustment the Southern League brings.
“To me, it’s one of the hardest transitions you have to make in the minor leagues,” he said.
“Once he settled in, once it warmed up a little bit, he absolutely went off. He had a great year and you could see the confidence in him.”
Smith got hot in the last two months of the season and got his OPS all the way up to .835, the third-best in the Southern League.
Spring training being canceled this year put a halt to Smith’s momentum, as does the uncertain present and future for minor league baseball as a whole. With that in mind, his name still holds some buzz despite the drop-off in his stock and could be a name to keep an eye out for to battle for a roster spot when the time comes.