DUNEDIN, Fla. — Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have high expectations for their team, and after a disappointing season last year they can take heart that youngsters in their system should provide a bright light on the horizon.
Outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. is one such prospect that fans can look forward to cracking the major-league lineup for their scrutinizing pleasure in a couple years time.
Smith is aware of the pressure on the big-league team to produce, and is excited about the role he could play one day towards a winning Blue Jays team.
“We just gotta take care of our business and then hopefully help the big club out a little bit down the road,” said the 21-year-old, “And hopefully bring that winning attitude back to Toronto, back to where it used to be.”
Fortunately for Blue Jays fans, Smith appears to be on the road to a career in the MLB, having steadily progressed in his development.
He had a solid season last year with the Lansing Lugnuts, hitting .284 with seven home runs and 46 RBI in 479 plate appearances.
“Anything the team needs [from me] I can do for them,” said Smith, “Whether it’s extra base hits, stealing a base, getting an outfield assist, anything the team needs, I can do.”
Smith came into training camp last year with the cloud of a wrist injury plaguing his thoughts, but he is starting this season more at ease, and with confidence in his health.
“Last year I was coming off of injury so I had to worry about that,” said Smith, “But now I’m healthy and feeling more relaxed.”
And he has every reason to feel increasingly comfortable. His control of the strike zone and his 25 stolen bases, among other strengths, led to the award that Smith cites as one of the proudest moments of his career.
“Winning MVP for our A ball squad last year,” said Smith, “That was probably the biggest moment of my pro career so far.”
The Smith family is no stranger to MLB success as Smith’s father, Dwight Smith Sr., was a runner up for the National League Rookie for the Year award in 1989.
“He’s the main reason why I wanted to start playing ball,” said Smith, “I always watched him, I always followed him around, and I just loved it after that.”
Blue Jays fans can also look forward to a player who enjoys the fan culture that is so prominent in baseball.
“I like the crowd when it gets into it,” said Smith, “That’s probably my favourite part, playing in front of the crowd.”