There is a reason that the Dodgers felt comfortable finally dealing away their top catching prospect in Kiebert Ruiz, and his name is William Dills Smith.
After years of speculation as to which of these two young catchers would claim the backstop as their own, the Dodgers gave us all the answer by sending Ruiz to the Nationals in a deal for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner.
Smith has been solid during his big league tenure, but he has taken things to another level since the trade deadline officially made him the catcher of both present and future. Since July 31st, Will Smith is hitting .312 with 8 RBI and 3 home runs, including two clutch shots in the last two games.
The first of these home runs came in extra innings on Friday night, the hit that proved to be the game-winner in what ended as a 6-5 Dodgers victory over the Mets.
Will Smith's dramatic 2-run homer in extras yesterday was his first extra-innings homer of his career. The Fresh Prince is hitting .545 (6-for-11) with six RBI in his career in extra-inning games. #Dodgers
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) August 14, 2021
The most recent homer came in a similarly critical situation, a solo shot that not only tied the game in the 7th inning but also broke up a no-hitter in a game where the LA offense was struggling to get it going at the plate.
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) August 15, 2021
With Will, it isn’t about the total amount of productions as much as it is the timeliness of his production. The kid can come through when it matters most. And with the team still struggling to return to full health, Smith has been key to keeping this team in the hunt for another division title.
His improvement hasn’t just come on offense, however. One of the biggest knocks on Smith had always been that his defense and game-calling were not as developed as his bat. This season has gone a long way in changing that narrative, as Smith has bought into his role as a game-caller.
After Saturday night’s victory in New York, Walker Buehler gave Smith a lot of credit for his incredible outing.
Big tip of the hat to Will Smith and the fingers he’s putting down and keeping me in the zone. I was a little sporadic at times, so him kind of calming me down and getting me back in [the zone] was huge.
The Dodgers have always known that Will Smith could hit at the major league level, but having him grow as a defensive catcher is huge. If he can continue his current trajectory, it won’t be long before he enters the conversation for being the best catcher in baseball.