"I'm pleasantly surprised to see what he's doing after not making our team coming out of spring training," Smokies manager Ryne Sandberg said of Smith.
Smith's stay in Daytona was a short one. After he belted five home runs and 18 RBI in just 15 games in April, Double-A came calling.
"I had no clue at all," Smith said. "You never have any clue when you'll get called up or sent down or anything. You just go out there every day, play hard and see what happens from there."
Since being called up, Smith's success has continued. Actually, it's only increased. In his 74 games with the Smokies, he's batting .289 – almost 30 points higher than his .260 Daytona average.
He has also added seven more home runs and leads the team in doubles with 26.
"I think offense is my biggest strength. I think I have pretty quick hands and I'm usually able to pick up pitches pretty well," Smith said.
Sandberg kept an eye on Smith's numbers in Daytona and has kept a closer watch on his production in Tennessee.
"He's had a lot of doubles, so he's showing some power numbers, and he's [driven] in some runs," Sandberg said. "If you add up his numbers with us and then the numbers that he had in Daytona before he left, I think he was somewhere around 50 RBI at the All-Star break."
Smith has provided a healthy jolt of power to the Smokies' lineup, but he doesn't think his power surge puts him in a category with some of minor league baseball's other long-ball hitters.
"I wouldn't classify myself as that much of a power hitter. My home runs if you check them are not like light-tower power like some of the other guys on our team have," Smith says. "I'm more of a line drive guy and sometimes I get under them a little bit and they seem to get out of there. I usually hit about the same amount every year."
Some hitters go up to the plate looking for a specific pitch; Smith's approach is a bit different from the norm.
"I usually just go up there looking for a pitch in a certain zone. Sometimes I look for certain pitches, but mostly it's looking in a zone to try and see the ball. I try to keep it simple up there and not think about stuff too much," Smith said.
That's not the only thing about Smith that is out of the ordinary. The former Clemson Tiger became quite familiar with the draft process before signing with the Cubs as an eighth-round pick in 2007.
Smith was drafted four different times, including twice by the Cubs, before finally signing.
"I got drafted late out of high school so I didn't want to sign then," Smith recalled. "The year before I signed, in 2006, I got drafted by the Cubs also and the reason I didn't sign then was I knew we were going to be really good at Clemson that following year. I knew we probably had a good shot at winning a national championship."
Smith didn't get his national championship. The Tigers were eliminated in the Super Regionals, the round before the College World Series, but he did gain valuable experience that is helping his march towards the big leagues.
"One reason I'm really glad I ended up going to college is because it helps you out mentally and physically -- especially at a big time school like Clemson when you're playing in front of five or six thousand fans almost every game so you're ready for pro ball by the time you get to that situation," Smith said.
As for that march toward the big leagues, Smith's time in Double-A has not changed his demeanor.
"I think if you go out and do what you're supposed to do and keep moving up, you should be able to achieve your goals," Smith said.
Smith's Swift Call-Up a Success
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