The Blue Jays have used their system well to acquire several key pieces from other organizations via trade over recent years.
Despite all of the prospects that have left, several are still on their way to the Majors for the big club and several are highly touted.
In 2014, the Blue Jays will try to erase a 21 year playoff drought. Will the franchise part with some more of its youth, or may they hold steady with the personnel in the MiLB?
If you are a fan, get to know these players we list in the post, and follow their progress in the Minors. if you click their name, it will take you to baseballreference.com’s player page of them. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday January 24, 2012
MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: Being based in Toronto, we have heard the name Dwight Smith Jr. discussed frequently this year. Smith, drafted 53rd overall by the Jays in the recent 2011 draft, has Jays fans excited about him patrolling the Rogers Centre outfield one day soon. I was able to catch up with Dwight recently to discuss his offseason and future goals. As a second generation baseball player, Dwight enters the professional ranks with expectations already attached to him. The benefit/curse of being a high draft pick and carrying on a famous baseball name. But Dwight is ready to take on those challenges and make his name in the game.
Like many young players, Dwight grew up admiring Ken Griffey Jr. Probably one of the best all-around talents this game has ever seen, Griffey is a great player to look up to. Interestingly though, it was Albert Pujols who Dwight favorites today. “He has so much success and yet he is still humble.” If every baseball prospect could keep that approach, the game would definitely have more future stars in its ranks! In addition to baseball, Dwight played basketball. Many top athletes are involved in multiple sports based on their high athleticism. When asked why he chose baseball, Dwight replied, “I played basketball until my senior year, but I chose baseball because I always loved it.” With Dwight Smith as his father, I have no doubt that Jr. grew up around the game and developed a deep love for the sport. But it’s not like Smith did not have choices. If he hadn’t signed with the Jays, he would have attended Georgia Tech and played college ball. When I asked Smith if he expected to go the Jays in the draft, he said that he did not…but “was grateful they picked me.” The baseball gods smiled down on draft day upon this outfield prospect, as I see a very good fit between the player and organization. With his strong tools and power/speed potential, Smith could be in Toronto one day very soon.
I actually grew up watching his father, Dwight Smith (Sr.) and outfield partner Jerome Walton patrolling the Wrigley outfield for the Cubs. While his dad was not a hall of famer, he was a good overall player who did everything right. He played solid defense and contributed timely hits with the bat. I asked Dwight about the influence that his dad had on his career. Talking about his dad, Dwight replied that “he was a huge influence on me and the reason why I picked up a glove and bat. I learned so much from him not only about baseball but about life that helps me each everyday perform.” I was glad to see the strong bond between father and son. But it led to me wonder how being a “jr” affected Dwight and the type of pressure it put on him as a player. Dwight responded that “…it’s a blessing and a curse because being a 2nd generation ballplayer, so much is expected from you early and when you succeed they say it’s because your dad. Which isn’t fair to anybody because my dad never played a game for me but life isn’t fair. However, I never really felt much pressure because I have to play my game.” I found it very refreshing that Dwight could so clearly conceptualize the reality of being a 2nd generation player, but still stay focused and keep his position in the game in perspective. It is this type of thinking that I believe will lead Dwight far in the game of baseball.
Whenever I talk to a young player, I always ask them when they expect/hope to make the big leagues. Most are unwilling to put a timetable on their progress, while trying to work hard and hope that everything works out for them in the end. Dwight was a little different, as he set the goal for himself to make the show in 2-3 years. The secret for his success will be “hard work, dedication and if the good lord keeps him healthy.” Dwight cannot wait for the 2012 season to begin, as he is looking forward to his first year of professional baseball. After this year though, life will never be the same for him. Imagine the changes. One minute he was playing the high school ball…the next he is a member of the Toronto Blue Jays! Life can change in an instant. At the end of the day, his great baseball tools got Dwight Smith Jr. drafted and part of a Major League team. But it is focus and ambition that will carry him at the end of the day. For a team longing for more stars on its roster, help is on the way.
The Toronto Blue Jays have one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. Dwight Smith Jr. is definitely part of the new-look Jays prospects. He wants to work hard on every facet of his game until he becomes a complete player. Will we see the next Ken Griffey Jr. or Albert Pujols? Time will tell. But he definitely set the bar high for himself. Getting to know Dwight Smith Jr., he wouldn’t have it any other way.
***Thank you to Dwight Smith Jr. for taking the time to speak with MLB reports! You can follow Dwight on Twitter (@dsmith25blujay). Dwight enjoys speaking with his fans, so please feel free to send him any questions/comments you have. Or just wish him good luck on the season!***
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
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