The Arizona Diamondbacks are auditioning first base contenders to replace Paul Goldschmidt. Here are the Top 5 Contenders to take the spot in 2019.
What made the Goldschmidt deal inevitable was the particular synergistic opportunism behind it. Arizona’s farm system is not well-regarded, bu every system has its strength, and for the Diamondbacks, they have a collection of high-ceiling up-the-middle position players in the lower levels. In terms of ML-ready talent, however, they’re fairly bereft.
Except at first base.
Pavin Smith is the presumptive first baseman of the future in Arizona. Smith will be 23 when the season begins, ready to start this season in Double A. If he continues to develop, he should be ready to take over the first base position full-time in 2020 or 2021.
The Diamondbacks selected the lefty 7th overall in the 2017 draft out of the University of Virginia, and he has moved steadily through the Dbacks system in the two season hence. He can really hit, but for a first baseman he’s not a slugger in the traditional sense. Not yet.
In his first full season as a 21-year-old in Low-A, Smith hit .318/.401/.415 without a single home run. Last season he jumped to High-A, working to a .255/.342/.392 mark in 120 games. He did hit 11 home runs, but the long ball output did not equate to an improved slugging percentage, nor an improved overall line.
At 6’2″, 210lbs, Smith has the raw power, but he has to learn how to access it in-game to become a top prospect. He projects as a decent defender without great speed, keeping him grounded at first base. That means he’ll have to hit more than most prospects to earn his promotions.
He may move quickly through the upper levels of the minors if the power develops. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Diamondbacks push him with an aggressive assignment. His mature approach at the plate led to a #91 overall rating from MLB.com prior to 2018, but he has to avoid falling into the trap of overreaching for power.
If all goes well, Smith will be installed as the first baseman of the future by 2021 at the latest – but it’s far from a guarantee. In the meantime, here are some candidates to take over first base.