It’s easy to overlook Canaan Smith-Njigba as a prospect. He was acquired in the trade that also netted the Pirates Roansy Contreras, and he’s been playing among some of the better prospects in the system ever since joining the organization.
The Pirates liked what they saw, as he was one of the players they sent to the Arizona Fall League, and started the season in Triple-A Indianapolis after being an addition to the 40-man roster.
He didn’t get off to the best of starts, with a slash of .205/.262/.282 over his first 11 games, striking out 32.5% of the time he came to the plate.
Then something clicked, and Smith-Njigba started a 28-game on-base streak on April 22, going 1-for-4 with a double against the Iowa Cubs.
A little over a month later, on May 28th, that streak came to an end, as he entered the game as a pinch-hitter, going 0-for-1.
During his on-base streak, Smith-Njigba slashed .280/.429/.419, with 10 extra-base hits and four stolen bases. The biggest key at the plate has not only been the cut down on strikeouts, but his insane walk totals. Smith-Njigba was able to decrease his strikeouts by 10 (22%), and walked 20.5% of the times he came to the plate.
Smith-Njigba will never be one of the more talked about prospects in the system, and the outfield looks like it’s going to get very crowded at the major league soon.
What he does do, is get on-base, at a really good rate as well. Smith-Njigba owns a 15.36% career walk-rate. Even if the power doesn’t come, with his walk rate and sneaky base stealing ability (41-of-50 in his career), Smith-Njigba does fit the profile of an effective lead-off hitter.
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