Video from the 2012 Season
Bryson Smith came into the 2012 season as a rather unheralded prospect. He was drafted late (34th round) out of college where he was solid, but unspectacular. When he signed he went out and crushed the ball in limited time between Arizona and Billings to the tune of .368/.470/.611 over 115 plate appearances. Between the late round draft pick status and limited, though excellent play, he fell outside of my Reds Top 40 Prospects in the 2012 Prospect Guide and had a write up later in the book with the additional prospects.
Smith must have impressed in spring training enough that the Reds placed him in High-A Bakersfield with the Blaze right off the bat. He got off to a slow start, hitting just .185 over his first eight games of the season. For as slow as he began though, he heated up quickly as he hit over .400 the rest of the month of April to finish up with a line of .309/.382/.471 with 4 walks and 11 strikeouts in 77 trips to the plate.
The center fielder cooled off to begin May, starting the month by going 2 for his first 16, but once again was able to heat up and was on fire for the rest of the month as he had two separate six game hitting streaks. Over his 107 trips to the plate he would hit .363/.448/.495 in May with 8 walks and 13 strikeouts. Smith once again showed off a good contact rate, though he only had 6 extra-base hits in the month with three doubles and three home runs.
June did not go well for Smith in Bakersfield. In his first ten games of the month he would hit just .233 with just a single walk and 9 strikeouts before heading to the disabled list for two weeks. When he returned he spent just two more days with the Blaze before being promoted to Double-A Pensacola for the final three games of the month where he went 4 for 12. Smith finished up the month with a line of .254/.262/.333 in 65 trips to the plate with just a single walk and 10 strikeouts to go along with 3 extra-base hits. With a trip to the disabled list during the month, his struggles may be written off to playing with an injury for a short period of time before it was decided to sit him down.
When July rolled around the outfielder was back to his old self at the plate for the Blue Wahoos. He began the month on a tear going 13 for 37 (.351) before slowing down in the second half of the month. Smith finished up the month with 70 plate appearances on the way to hitting .311/.368/.443 on the month with just 3 walks and 9 strikeouts. He again showed a strong contact rate, something he had done all season, and his walk rate took another step in the wrong direction as it had been trending since May ended.
In August and September Smith finished out his 2012 season with the Blue Wahoos. His walks literally dried up for the time frame, not drawing a single walk in the 85 trips to the plate over that time frame and slumping in the last two weeks of the year to hit just .235. He finished up August and September with a .296/.313/.383 line to go along with 13 strikeouts, no walks, 3 doubles and 2 triples.
Bryson Smith is an interesting prospect who may project best as a fourth outfielder, though in some scenarios could find himself in a good role similar to the one that Chris Heisey (not that they have similar skillsets, but the role that he plays could be similar) has played for the Reds to garner plenty of playing time. He is a contact oriented hitter and sells out any power he does have to put the bat on the ball, but he does so with a good rate of success. He is an above-average to plus runner, though his stolen base success rate suggests he doesn’t quite use his speed as well as you would like to see. Moving forward, his walk rate is going to need to improve from where it was in the second half of the season with Pensacola, even for a guy who can make contact as often as he does. He should be back with the Blue Wahoos to begin the 2013 season, but could move up later in the year with some success.