Padres’ Smith Named Minor League Top Offensive Player


San Diego Padres’ fans may not yet be familiar with the name Mallex Smith, but the outfielder is certainly doing what he can to make a name for himself. Smith, 21, was recently voted as the fans’ selection for the 2014 Minor League Baseball Top Offensive Player, beating out other top power prospects Kris Bryant (.325 43 110), Joc Pederson (.303 33 78) and Joey Gallo (.271 42 106)

A Midwest League All-Star this past season, Smith, according to, won the award with 23% of the vote.

Smith, who split time with Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore in 2014, hit .310, with five home runs and 31RBIs. However, what separates Smith from the rest is his speed. He swiped 88 bases last year and 64 at Fort Wayne in 2013. This past season, he also scored 99 runs in 120 games with a .310 OBP. He also struck out 109 times and was caught stealing 26 times.

A former fifth round draft choice in 2012, Smith, who bats from the left side, is spending his Fall with the Surprise Saguaros in the AFL. He’s currently hitting .250 through nine games, with three RBIs and two stolen bases. Still, he’s finding ways to get on base, walking six times and holding a .349 OBP.

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In 2015, it’s unlikely Smith is ticketed anywhere but Double-A San Antonio, most likely because he’ll need to cut down on his strikeouts, especially if he bats at the top of the order. The Padres upcoming Spring Training will dictate some of that, yet, it’s safe to say the team won’t rush him.

It is also important to point out that the stolen base is once again emerging as an important part of a comprehensive offense in baseball.

In 2014, the Padres ranked 9th in the NL with 91 stolen bases. The leaders across the two leagues were the Dodgers, with 135, and the Royals with 153. It’s not a coincidence both those teams spent time in the postseason, with the Royals coming within a game of a World Series title.

This past season, the Padres top four in stolen bases (with Everth Cabrera leading the way with 18) totaled 49. Both the Dodgers and Royals’ top four totaled 112 stolen bases, surpassing the entire Padres team total by 21.

Looking ahead, as it pertains to team speed, Cabrera’s status is unclear. It seemed he wasn’t the same player as he was in 2013. With recent first round selection Trea Turner, the writing may be on the wall. Cameron Maybin once stole 40 bases. It’s unlikely that will ever happen again. Will Venable’s stolen bases have steadily declined over the past five years, bottoming out with 11 in 2013.

It each of the last three years, the Padres team total stolen bases have dropped (155, 118, 91). In correlation, so has the team totals for runs (651, 618, 535).

If this off-season is about addressing needs, which is how it’s been touted, keep on eye on potential moves, or lack thereof, that address team speed. Smith could certainly help if he’s deemed ready.