The White Sox have placed catcher Alex Avila on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring after he aggravated during Saturday's 4-3 win over Texas. AAA catcher and longtime White Sox farmhand Kevan Smith has been called up.
Avila was only batting .214 in the early going this year, but had a robust .333 OBP due to his ability to draw plenty of walks.
The 27-year-old Smith is hitting .345 in Charlotte this year and was an easy choice to call up. Having been in the White Sox farm system since 2011, this has been a long time coming for the offense-first catcher, who only recently fell off of Future Sox's Top 30 prospects list.
Here's the Future Sox scouting report, with more content on the website.
This two-way Pitt product was a two-time first team Big East honoree and was twice named to the All-Big East Tournament team while being known more for his defense than offense. He was also a quarterback on the football team for three years and got a few starts as a redshirt freshman in 2007. Smith turned his focus to baseball and joins the long list of notable White Sox draft picks with a football background. He turned 23 less than a month after he got drafted so his dominant rookie ball numbers at Bristol and Great Falls needed context. He held his own for both A ball teams in 2012 (combined .281/.338/.434), but repeated with Winston-Salem in 2013 and did very well statistically (.286/.370/.464, 12 HR). 2014 he made the jump to AA, and again hit well (.290/.376/.437) while a couple years older than league average. 2015 saw him make the final minor league jump to AAA, but he didn't get comfortable at the plate until late in the season and finished with a respectable .260 AVG and .330 OBP, but the power disappeared (6 HR).
Scouting reports have said positive things on his hitting (though with some fixable timing flaws), but defensively he hasn't always showed well with blocking and glove work. He does have a strong arm for the position, and his athleticism hints at a higher defensive ceiling. He's got good power, and has made good contact throughout the minors, though that power didn't seem to be there in 2015. He's got a bit of a hitch in his swing that means he's not real quick to the ball, but he puts bat to ball effectively. Defensively he made improvements in 2015, and reports on his handling of pitchers are strongly positive. Those latter traits are key in the eyes of the parent club, and White Sox front office people have spoken highly of Smith's abilities in those areas. He's still got a shot to be a major league backup, though going into his age 27/28 season he'll need to show very well in AAA to get there.
Want to read up on the White Sox farm system and stars of tomorrow? Check out Future Sox.
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