Batting third for the Gulf Coast League Yankees has been Barry Bonds.
But he has been going by the name Canaan Smith.
Smith, the Yankees’ fourth-round draft pick this year, got the Bonds comparisons throughout his Rockwall-Heath (Texas) High School career, when he gained national attention by walking 53 times in his first 38 games this year during his senior season. The left-handed hitter came close to setting the high school record of 72, showing the careful eye and power the Yankees hunt.
In a draft that saw the Yankees select 10 pitchers in the first 11 rounds, Smith was the lone top-round bat, a choice the Yankees lured away from his commitment to Arkansas.
“He does things that we like as an organization with plate discipline and power combination,” Damon Oppenheimer, the vice president of amateur Yankees scouting, said recently. “He’s athletic, he was a football player. He played center field, but we see him more as a corner guy — a guy who uses the whole field to hit.”
The 18-year-old, who is 6-foot and 215 pounds, has gotten off to a solid start, slashing .262/.405/.365 in 38 GCL games, where he has played left and right field. And the walks just keep coming: Entering Saturday, he had 30 in 158 plate appearances, to go with a pair of home runs.
With a player best known for keeping the bat on his shoulders — which makes assessing talent difficult — Oppenheimer was pleased at the high school games the Yankees scouts attended.
“The games we were at where he did get pitches to hit, he did a lot of damage,” Oppenheimer said. “It gave you the combination where you saw the [power and the] guy who wasn’t expanding the strike zone.”
Peter Alonso, a Mets second-round pick in 2016, was named the Florida State League Player of the Month for July. The High-A St. Lucie first baseman batted .336 with eight home runs in 29 games. On the year, the 22-year-old was slashing .285/.360/.530 with 15 home runs.