Will Smith Receives ‘Partial’ September Callup

Will Smith’s season ended in early September when Triple-A Oklahoma City was eliminated in the Pacific Coast League playoffs. But the 23-year-old catcher was held after class for additional tutoring.

Smith joined the Dodgers for a mid-September series in St. Louis and spent the final two weeks of the regular season with them. It was a partial September callup—he was not added to the 40-man roster.

“We as an organization wanted to bring him along to see the routine,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “The pregame preparation, meeting with the catchers, the pitchers, the pitching coaches—being in a big league ballpark and seeing how the rhythm goes.”

“So going forward next year, two years, whenever the time comes, that it kind of defuses the anxiety a little bit.”

Smith spent his days catching bullpen sessions with the major league pitching staff and going through the game-planning meetings that are part of each day’s pregame routine for catchers, pitchers and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.

It was a welcome assignment that Smith hopes will accelerate his rise to the major leagues.

“I think so,” he said. “Just kind of being around the team every day, building relationships, kind of living the life for a couple weeks. Just kind of go through it a little bit without having to perform on the field. It takes a little of the pressure off, so that when it does happen it’s not everything all at once, I guess.”

A 2016 first-round pick out of Louisville, Smith spent most of this season with Double-A Tulsa, sharing the catching duties with another top prospect, Keibert Ruiz. Ruiz’s presence translated to 33 starts at third base for Smith, who also saw action at second base in 2017.

A bone bruise in his thumb sent Smith to the sidelines for four weeks with the Drillers. But he still hit 19 home runs while hitting .264/.358/.532 in 73 games at Double-A, earning a late-season promotion to Oklahoma City. Smith struggled offensively there, batting just .138 in 25 games in his first taste of Triple-A.

“I think offensively a lot of the things I’d work on with my hitting came together,” Smith said of his season. “Catching, I just keep learning and accelerating that way. 

“I felt like it was a good year. I got up to Triple-A, learned some stuff, had a little bit of growing pains, but that’s something to learn from. I just couldn’t get anything going (in Triple-A), but that’s baseball.”


>> The Dodgers named shortstop Gavin Lux and righthander Tony Gonsolin this year’s winners of the Branch Rickey minor league player and pitcher of the year.

The Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2016, Lux split the year between high Class A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa, batting .324 with 15 home runs and a .913 OPS.

Gonsolin was a ninth-round pick in 2016 and also went from Rancho Cucamonga to Tulsa this season. He made 26 starts with a combined 2.60 ERA and 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings over 128 innings.

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