Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 130 of 286. For the first 100, click here.
Milton Smith Jr. is a 5’10”, 165 lb. left-handed center fielder from Starkville, Mississippi, and he could turn out to be their ace in the hole. Born on September 25th, 1997, Smith was chosen in the 22nd round of the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft out of Meridian Community College by the Miami Marlins. Fellow Marlins prospect Davis Bradshaw also joined Miami out of Meridian.
Chosen with the 657th overall pick, Smith would join a fraternity of three who have made the major leagues after getting drafted at the position. Geoff Zahn (1966, Chicago White Sox, 20.5 career WAR), Shawn Hillegas (1983, California Angels, 1.5 WAR), and Andrew Triggs (2011, San Francisco Giants, 0.5 WAR) are the first three.
After his selection, Smith signed with the Miami Marlins for a $90,000 bonus, and joined the rookie-level, Florida-based GCL Marlins, in the Gulf Coast League. He collected multiple hits in four of his first eight games, eventually going 16-for-45 with five walks for a .356/.420/.378 slashline, with three stolen bases in four tries through 15.
On July 9th, Smith went one-for-two for GCL, then was promoted to the high-A-level Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League. This move bypassed three levels for the then-20-year-old prospect. After joining the Hammerheads, he was used as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the 10th for Bubba Hollins, as the Sharks lost, 4-3 to the Tampa Tarpons.
Smith then went five-for-11 in four contests for Jupiter, with a triple before going on the DL with a slight injury on July 16th. After 12 days, he rejoined GCL for the remainder of the campaign.
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Smith continued his solid play through the end of the season for the rookie-level outfit. He was 21-for-60 with nine walks in 16 games from that point on. His .350/.443/.433 slashline was indicative of his plus hit-tool and patience at the plate, as well as his lack of power. He did hit five doubles in his second stint with GCL.
Defensively, Smith turned in 266 2/3 innings of work in the outfield, including 178 2/3 in center. Overall, he took 58 chances without a flub, with an outfield assist and a double play to go with a flawless fielding percentage.
Currently still slotted with the GCL club, it’s likely Smith rejoins the Hammerheads for the 2019 season. He’s emerging as a possible middle-round steal, with a good shot at a 2021 callup to the Miami Marlins.
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