Mallex Smith Honored by Fans


They say that speed never slumps. And while Cubs prospest and USD alumn Kris Bryant won the staff award for best minor league player, the fans honored speedster Mallex Smith as the top offensive player in minor league baseball in 2014. Perhaps chicks don’t dig the long ball after all? Smith picked up 23% of the fans votes, with Reds 1B Marques Smith getting 22% and Bryant down in 3rd at 15%. 

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After all, Smith did steal 88 bases between Low-A Fort Wayne and A Lake Elsinore, 19 more than any other minor league player. Maybe not the 155 that Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton swiped in 2012, but still pretty good. One other nice statistic on Smith’s side is that between the two minors stops he also hit .310 with an even better .403 on-base percentage. It is that hitting and plate discipline that will be his ticket to the majors, as great speed isn’t worth much without plate discipline.

Scouts think that there could be double-digit homer potential in Smith down the road, and at 21-years-old, he has time to develop that speed. So far in the Arizona Fall League, he is only hitting 2-for-14 with one steal, but too much stock can’t be put into such a small sample size. He is gaining an invaluable experience to play above his level, and 2015 will be a big development year for him to continue learning and hopefully make the jump to Double-A or maybe even Triple-A El Paso.

The Royals of 2014 didn’t hit a lot of home runs, but they did wreak havoc on the base paths and play solid defense. The Padres would do well in a similar playing ballpark to go after the same formula. With masher Hunter Renfroe moving along to provide some power and Jedd Gyorko looking to rebound, they should have at least a couple middle-of-the-order guys to hit home runs. With speedsters like Reymond Fuentes and defenders like Trea Turner coming along as well, they just might find that magical mix sooner than later.

Meanwhile, Renfroe had started out hot in the AFL and has cooled down since, with his average dipping down to just .222 with one memorable home run. Trea Turner hasn’t been playing much, but has gone 4-for-15 in his limited playing time.

Still several weeks to go in the AFL, and before we know it baseball will be back in Peoria getting ready for 2015.