Cleveland Indians Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By Jim Ingraham
1. Corey Smith, 3b
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Drafted: HSPiscataway, N.J., 2000 (1st round). Signed by: Jim Stevenson.
Background: The Indians traditionally have avoided drafting high school infielders in the first round, doing so just twice in the last 20 years. They took Mark Lewis in 1988 and Smith in 2000. The muscular Smith was a shortstop in high school, but the Indians wasted no time in moving him to third base, where they feel his size and power potential make him a more natural fit. In Smiths two years as a pro, the transition to third base has gone much better offensively than defensively. Club officials downplay his stuggles with the glove, partly because his upside with the bat is so vast.
Strengths: Smith gets rave reviews for his makeup and work ethic. He is, plain and simple, a baseball player. A throwback. He loves the game and works extremely hard to improve his weaknesses. Hes intelligent and has tremendous athletic ability as well as an aptitude for learning. He has excellent bat speed that should produce even more power than he already has shown. Smith has yet to hit for a high average but that may come as well. He seems to rise to the occasion offensively and is a very tough out with men on base. Despite his obvious physical gifts, his biggest strength may be his passion. Hes a potential franchise cornerstone once he reaches the big leagues.
Weaknesses: Smith needs to work on his strike-zone discipline, but the most obvious flaw in his game is his defense. In 187 games as a pro, he has made 77 errors45 at low Class A Columbus in 2001most of them on poor throws. Smith has arm strength but lacks consistent mechanics. He made major strides in that area during instructional league. He tends to try to do too much defensively, which also has contributed to his third-base difficulties. Except for the errors, the position switch has gone better than expected. His speed is below average but hes not a baseclogger.
The Future: Until Cleveland got Alex Escobar in the Roberto Alomar trade, Smith was by far the organizations best position-player prospect and he still ranks as No. 1. He wont be rushed despite the lack of bats ahead of him. At age 20, hell open at high Class A Kinston. He probably wont arrive in the big leagues before late 2004.
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