Drillers' Smith continues power surge

Dodgers No. 9 prospect homers in fourth straight game ... again

Will Smith is hitting .447 with nine homers and a 1.670 OPS in his last 14 games. (Shane Roper/MiLB.com)

By Josh Horton / MiLB.com | July 12, 2018 1:25 AM

You could say Will Smith is a streaky home run hitter. 

The Dodgers' No. 9 prospect homered for the fourth consecutive game -- the second time this season he's done that -- and went 3-for-4 in Double-A Tulsa's 9-5 loss to Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday at Arvest Ballpark.

Video: Tulsa's Smith homers in fourth straight

Homers have been coming in bunches for Smith, who stands in a four-way tie for second in the Texas League with 16 -- two off the pace of Drillers teammate DJ Peters, Los Angeles' sixth-ranked prospect. The Louisville native has cleared the fences in five of his last six games and boasts nine homers in the last 14 contests, he's hitting .447 with a 1.670 OPS during that stretch. 

"It's been a fun couple of weeks, for sure," Smith said. "I'm making sure I'm having a good approach at the plate every time, seeing the ball well and making good decisions. I'm just putting barrels on them and putting them out of the park.

"I wouldn't really say I'm doing anything different from the beginning of the year. Every hitter is making little minor changes to their swings consistently. Right now, my swing just feels locked in, on time, and as a result of the hard work I've put in with the coaches and other players here, it's showing up on the field in a positive way." 


Gameday box score


The 23-year-old backstop kept the homer streak alive leading off the eighth, ambushing a first-pitch offering from right-handed reliever Andres Machado to left field. He lined a two-run double to left in the first and singled in the third. 

Smith wasn't known as much of a power hitter at the University of Louisville after hitting nine roundtrippers in three seasons with the Cardinals. His improvements in that facet of the game as a professional haven't surprise him, though. 

"I've always known I could do this and put up power numbers," he said. "It was just figuring out how to do it and how to do it consistently. ... Just to put it all together and grow as a player allows me to doing what I'm doing right now." 

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Smith is splitting time behind the plate with Dodgers No. 2 prospect Keibert Ruiz, but remains a mainstay in the Tulsa lineup by sliding in at designated hitter and third base. The changes haven't affected his bat much, with the 2016 first-round pick hitting .296 with a 1.005 OPS in his first season at Double-A.

He was originally called up to the Texas League last season after starting off in the California League with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, but he missed the rest of the year after being hit on the hand with a pitch during his Texas League debut. 

The first-round pick in 2016 has been mentioned in trade rumors, due to the Dodgers being in a position to contend and make improvements at the Trade Deadline on July 31. 

"I try not to think about all that stuff too much," Smith said. "It really helps that we have a really good clubhouse right now. ... Good guys to be around every day. It just takes the pressure off of everyone, where you can relax and just play ball." 

Video: NW Arkansas' Liddi homers in third straight

Alex Liddi hit his fourth homer in three games for Northwest Arkansas, while Elier Hernandez went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. 

Jacob Scavuzzo was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs for Tulsa.

Josh Horton is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @joshhortonMiLB This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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