When the Los Angeles Dodgers were in need of a catcher earlier this season they recalled Rocky Gale from Triple-A Oklahoma City. He’d joined the team for two separate stints, but with Austin Barnes bound for the injured list, the Dodgers gave Will Smith the nod.
The call-up marked the first of Smith’s career; he joined the Dodgers for a brief stretch last September, but to get his feet wet, spend time inside a Major League clubhouse and gain insight into game preparation. Smith was not added to the active roster during that time.
One of the organization’s top catching prospects did not need to wait long, as Smith was in the lineup Tuesday against the New York Mets.
The Dodgers bullpen allowed the game to get away, but Smith was able to appreciate the night on a personal level, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“It was awesome. It was a fun night, other than we lost, but yeah, I couldn’t have asked for more. I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”
Smith’s debut entailed catching Rich Hill for six innings, then four different relief pitchers in the seventh. While it was a byproduct of the Dodgers struggling to get outs, Smith found value in gaining experience with the staff:
“I’m trying to get used to these pitchers, get to know them, see what they do well, what they don’t do well. It’s good just to be thrown right into the fire and kind of go from there.”
Smith’s MLB debut was all the more memorable as he singled in his first at-bat and hit a double in the seventh inning. He also threw a runner out on a stolen base attempt, with an assist from the Dodgers challenging the initial safe call at second base.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he expects Barnes to return after spending the minimum 10 days on the injured list, which would suggest Smith’s time with the club won’t run long. However, Smith figures to be a candidate to return once active rosters expand in September.
He’s continued to impress with Triple-A Oklahoma City this year, and Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman previously touted Smith as already being a Gold-Glove caliber catcher.