Smith is Named August’s International League Player of the Month
By KeyAaron Dishman
Five years ago, Mallex Smith was starting his senior year in high school as one of the top baseball prospects in the Big Bend area.
Now, in just his third full season, Smith, a Tallahassee native, is a rising star and people are starting to notice.
Earlier this week, he was named as August’s International League Player of the Month, posting stats of 41 hits, 24 runs scored with a .336 batting average. When asked what motivates him, Smith responded, “I’m always behind in my head, that keeps me pushing forward.”
Smith, who stands at 5’9, has seen a lot of success in recent years. Last year, the 22-year-old, was voted Offensive Player of the Year, leading the Minor League with 88 stolen bases. In addition, he was also named an MiLB Organizational All-Star for the Padres and won the Midwest League All-Star Classic Bunting Contest.
His impressive stats aren’t surprising, said Smith’s Rickards High School Baseball Coach Brian Kelley. Kelley said he’d only be surprised if Smith hadn’t been as accomplished during his time playing professionally. Kelley also described Smith as a player who was consistently determined to strive for excellence.
Similar to Smith’s high school coach, his college coach echoed the same sentiment. Johnny Wiggs, head coach at Sante Fe Community College, said Smith had a tremendous work ethic and hunger to get better. Besides Smith’s do-whatever-it-takes attitude, Wiggs emphasized another special trait Smith displayed: humility.
“He was very humble,” said Wiggs who responded through e-mail. “A team guy and one that was very grounded. He never thought he was better than his teammates even after being drafted in the fifth round.”
In fact, Smith was drafted in the 13th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft by the Brewers after graduating from James S. Rickards High School. But he decided to spend another year at Santa Fe and re-enter the draft. And it paid off, as Smith was drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 Draft by the Padres, where he spent his first three years before being traded to the Braves in December at the start of this season.
“His parents, Michael and Loretta, did a great job establishing great values in him and helping him handle his ups and downs,” said Wiggs. “They helped him become the best he could be.”