It may have happened a little sooner than most were expecting, but the Braves have officially called up outfield prospect Mallex Smith to replace Ender Inciarte, who went on the 15 day disabled list due to a strainedÂ hamstring . Some may be unfamiliar with Smith, so lets delve a little deeper into what he brings to the Braves, on and off the field.
Mallex Smith was drafted in the 5th Round of the 2012 Major League Draft out of Sante Fe College to the San Diego Padres, where he played his first three seasons of professional ball. Then, in the offseason before the 2015 season, Mallex was traded along with Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson, and Max Fried to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Justin Upton.
Still just 22 years old, Mallex is ahead of most prospects his age, consistently being below the league average for age at each minor league stop along his road to Atlanta, including being nearly 5 years younger than the average Triple-A player last season in Gwinnett .
The key for Mallex to have success with the big league club is his 80 grade speed, in my earlier piece , I discussed Mallex briefly, stating that I believe he will provide a much needed spark to the Braves offense (he led the minor leagues in stolen bases with 88 in 2014 ). However that doesn’t mean he will rely solely on said speed to be effective offensively. Throughout his minor league career, Smith has put up a batting average of .295 as well as hitting .303/.371/.378 over 479 at bats in Double-A, Mississippi, and Triple-A, Gwinnett last season.
Not only is Mallex talented on the field, he’s quite the guy off of it. He brings an electric personality to match his speed and I’m not sure I have ever seen him not smiling. Early on, one can hope that Mallex will be a leader of future Braves teams in a way that players will enjoy being around him, appreciate his work ethic, and then hopefully follow suit. Just watch this interview of Mallex with MLB.com and try not to fall in love before you have even seen him take the field .
Last night, Mallex made his debut, where Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez batted him in the leadoff spot, an appropriate placement given the state of the current Braves lineup. Mallex struck out swinging at a Max Scherzer pitch in his first at bat, but then in the second inning recorded his first Major League hit and later came across to score for Atlanta.
Unfortunately for Braves fans, Smith’s debut was short-lived. After reaching base in the fourth inning, he attempted his first steal and injured himself on the slide. In one of the strangest injuries I have ever witnessed, his helmet fell forward into the bag, bounced back, and hit him square in the forehead, leaving a nasty looking laceration. He will require stitches and is listed as day-to-day. For video and more information on the incident, look here .
As he becomes one of the first of the many Braves’ prospects to be making his debut in the coming seasons, Mallex will battle for one of the now-crowded outfield spots with Hector Olivera, Ender Inciarte, and Nick Markakis. Braves fans will enjoy watching Mallex’s unique blend of speed and personality and I envision him quickly endearing himself to the Atlanta faithful. Above all else, Mallex Smith is an amazing and talented kid who the Braves are very fortunate to have in the organization.