SF Giants Next 10 Prospect Rankings
34. Armani Smith
Highest Level: Low-A (Salem-Keizer)
Acquired: Draft (2019)
Future-Value Grade: 35
This is easily my biggest break from consensus in the entire rankings, but I have been high on Armani Smith since the Giants drafted him in the seventh round of last year’s draft out of UC Santa Barbara.
The nephew of C.C. Sabathia, Smith, shares his uncle’s powerful frame but uses it on the other side of the diamond. His powerful 6’4″, 215-pound frame has led some scouts to project Smith with 80-grade power.
Up to this point in his career, Smith has more consistently flashed above-average to plus power, but he made strong strides from his sophomore to junior season at UCSB and carried some of that success over to his pro debut.
In high school, Smith played shortstop at Bay Area powerhouse De La Salle but moved around during his time at UCSB. He currently is a fringe right fielder that will probably have to move to left.
Unable to slug .400 in his first two years of college, Smith worked with UCSB associate head coach Donegal Fergus on a new swing to maximize his launch angle and found massive results. In 2019, Smith hit 11 home runs alongside a .325/.395/.636 line in the pitching-focused Big West Conference. Furthermore, even with the increased power, his strikeout rate was a manageable 15 percent.
Smith saw his strikeout rate spike in his pro debut at Low-A Salem Keizer in 2019, but he still managed a .826 OPS. In one highlight from the Giants social media account, Smith has already blasted a double with a 114 mph exit-velocity at instructs. If he can continue developing his hit tool, he could be the steal of last year’s draft class.