Between playing in the NCAA baseball tournament for Louisville, getting drafted by the Dodgers in the first round and traveling to Ogden to begin his professional career, it's been a whirlwind month for Will Smith.
The 2016 first-round pick hit his first Minor League homer and drove in two runs while going 3-for-4 on Wednesday as Rookie-level Ogden rolled to a 7-1 victory over Idaho Falls at Lindquist Field.
Smith used all parts of the field in his first career three-hit game. He kicked things off with an RBI single to right in the first inning and singled to left in the fifth. In the seventh, the 21-year-old hit his first career homer by taking reliever Cole Way deep to center for a solo shot.
"He's got a short, direct stroke and swings at good pitches," Raptors manager Shaun Larkin said. "Every time he puts the bat on the ball, it's on the barrel. He uses the whole field real well and has professional at-bats. Tonight, the numbers showed it for him."
When Smith got back to the dugout after his homer, he was greeted with deafening silence, something his manager said is a sign that the catcher/designated hitter already has gelled with his new teammates.
"He's fit in with the group real well and goes about his business in a mature manner," Larkin added. "When he got back to the dugout after the home run, they gave him the silent treatment, so that's a good sign. You know your teammates like you when they do stuff like that with you. It was a fun moment for not only Will but the team."
Hitting his first home run already made for a memorable evening, but thanks to reporter Michael Grennell of The Signpost, Smith got to take home a souvenir. After the ball cleared the fence, Grennell retrieved the ball and delivered it to the Ogden dugout, according to Raptors broadcaster Robbie Bullough.
Before being drafted 32nd overall, Smith slashed .380/.476/.573 with seven homers as a junior at Louisville. In six Pioneer League games, the Kentucky native is hitting .320 with a homer and five RBIs.
"By no means has he put extra pressure on himself," Larkin said. "There are guys that do that, depending on where they're coming from. Will comes from a prestigious baseball school, so there's been a lot of pressure on him and his team to do well this year. I think he's used to the expectation level of success and he's fit in really well and has shown no signs of pressing. He's just out there enjoying playing baseball. That's the attitude he brings every day."
Smith spent his first four games with the Raptors behind the plate but played second base on Tuesday and was the DH on Wednesday.
"We've got a long way to go still and he already has played a long season in college, so we're just trying to ease him back in," Larkin said. "He's going to get the majority of innings behind the plate. He may get some innings at second base to utilize his athleticism and versatility."
Mitchell Hansen and Garrett Hope also hit solo shots for the Raptors, who have won two in a row after dropping five straight.
Ogden starter Garrett Harrison allowed a run on one hit and struck out six over four innings before giving way to Rob McDonnell (1-0), who fanned four in 2 2/3 scoreless frames for the win. Shea Spitzbarth closed out the Chukars with 2 1/3 scoreless innings.