The 2021 MLB Draft will begin on July 11, 2021. We take a look at Noah Smith, a prep shortstop from Chicago who has demonstrated impressive glovework through three years at Marist.
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Noah Smith, Shortstop, Marist (Ill.)
Weight: 185 lbs.
2018: 35G, .273/.404/.340, 24 H, 8 RBI, 13 BB, 26 K, 9 SB
2019: 21G, .240/.367/.360, 12 H, 11 RBI, 7 BB, 17 K, 3 SB
2021: 36G, .361/.458/.445, 43 H, 26 RBI, 14 BB, 20 K, 22 SB
Smith is a slick fielder who rarely makes errors. He has a knack for finding the baseball and executing precise glovework to make the play. He’s also a decent hitter who makes good contact at the plate and is able to put the ball in play throughout all parts of the field.
Fielding is Smith’s top trait. He has a very smooth, reliable glove and also demonstrates enough range to stick at shortstop for several years down the road. The prep prospect plays with quickness and deliberate actions, and his clean hands when getting the ball out of his glove are pleasing to the eye. When it comes to fielding the ball, Smith is very well-rounded.
Smith also has an impressive bat and showed during his senior year that he can frequently put the ball in play. One valuable aspect of Smith’s performance at the plate is that he can hit line drives to all parts of the field. This leads to a lot of singles, and he is able to secure extra bases with his plus speed; Smith logged 22 stolen bases at Marist in 2021.
Power is the biggest glaring weakness when it comes to Smith. He hit zero home runs through three years in high school, which means he likely won’t ever hit more than two or three in a single season of pro ball. As he grows and builds more strength, there might be room to develop a little bit of power, but the fact of the matter is that he will never have legitimate pop.
Another concern with Smith is his arm. He’s demonstrated great fielding, but when it comes to throwing the ball to first base, he can be somewhat inaccurate. Forcing the first baseman to come off the bag might not be a rare occurrence when Smith throws the ball. Depending on how his arm looks in the lower levels of affiliated ball, a switch to second base could be necessary. It is quite possible that his arm becomes a liability and takes away from the value of his glove.
Pro Comparison: Amed Rosario
This is the absolute ceiling for Smith, but a Rosario comparison makes sense. Currently playing shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, Rosario is a slick-gloved shortstop with smooth fielding, a contact-loaded bat, solid speed, and minimal power. Both Rosario and Smith are 6-foot-2, and the former is just five pounds heavier. They both swing and throw right-handed, too. Perhaps the biggest difference (other than Rosario being a former top prospect and big-name player) is that Rosario has a much better arm than Smith; FanGraphs gave Rosario a 60-gade throw in 2017.
Draft Projection: Mid- to Late-Round Pick
It will likely take at least six to eight rounds for Smith to hear his name called this July, though being selected outside of the first 10 rounds wouldn’t be considered an astronomical fall. He has plenty of good traits, but there is legitimate question about whether his skills can translate to the next level. Outside of his fielding, there are plenty of unpredictable factors with the prep shortstop. It’s quite possible (perhaps even likely) that Smith doesn’t sign out of high school and instead honors his commitment to Louisville.