In this Unhinged Yankees prospect profile, we introduce you to 2019 second-round draft pick Josh Smith who’s minor league carer is off to a hot start.
Josh Smith was the Yankees selection with the 67th overall pick of the 2019 MLB Draft. The shortstop played three seasons of college baseball at LSU and helped the Tigers reach the college world series finals in 2017. In his junior season of 2019, Smith slashed .346/.433/.533 and hit nine home runs helping boost his draft stock.
According to MLB Pipeline, Smith is the Yankees 19th best prospect and ranks second behind 2019 first-round pick Anthony Volpe among New York’s middle infield prospect.
Level: Staten Island Yankees (A Short Season)
5’10″ / 172lbs.
MLB Pipeline Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Smith was originally drafted in the 38th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers but opted to play college baseball at LSU instead. After tearing apart SEC pitching in 2019 Smith decided to sign with the Yankees rather than return for a senior season.
From MLB Pipeline’s summary, Smith seems to have similar attributes to another former LSU Tiger and current New York Yankee.
MLB Pipeline says Smith “makes consistent contact from the left side of the plate, using the entire field and managing the strike zone. He has solid raw power and drives the ball enough to hit 15 or more homers on an annual basis, and he also has solid to plus speed and knows how to use it on the bases.”
Defensively they “Smith’s instincts also are apparent on defense, giving him a chance to stay at shortstop even if many scouts project him as a second baseman in the Majors. He provides steady glovework at shortstop with reliable hands and enough arm to make the necessary throws. He may not have a true plus tool, but he has no obvious holes in his game and should become at least a utilityman.”
This sounds a lot like DJ LeMahieu. Like LeMahieu, Smith manages the strike zone, uses the entire field and doesn’t have big power but enough to make him a 15 plus home run guy at Yankee stadium. Defensively he may not be on his way to becoming a gold glover like LeMahieu, but he is versatile like the Yankees all-star.
So far in short-season rookie ball, Smith has torn the cover off the ball. Smith is slashing .400/.513/.617 with three home runs and 14 RBI’s in just 18 games with the Staten Island Yankees.
Since he is 22 and has a lot of college experience, there’s a chance he could get promoted to Charleston before season’s end and then start 2020 in High-A Tampa.
Smith, appears to be on a fast track to the majors and in the event, the Yankees do not re-sign Didi Gregorius he could be cited as one of the players the team sees as a potential everyday starter.