Carter Smith struggled to find a role for FSU early in 2019 after transferring out of the JUCO ranks. Smith came to FSU from Florida SouthWestern State College, where he hit over .300 in both his freshman and sophomore season. The transfer couldn’t crack the starting lineup in the beginning of the season and couldn’t really find any rhythm at the plate as his average dropped all the way to .133 after FSU’s final game vs. UF on April 9th. But Smith’s season started to turn in the right direction after a 3-4 game against Richmond in early May.
After first base struggles from Nico Baldor and Cooper Swanson, Smith earned a start in FSU’s final game of a three-game series against UL. The lefty would go on to start the rest of the Seminoles’ game and be a key factor in FSU’s postseason run. Smith started 23 games on the year, but all of FSU’s last 11 games at first base. In those 11 games, Smith went 10-38 at the plate to end his season with a .245 average. The Fort Myers-native earned All-Athens Regional team honors and was one of just three FSU hitters to have multiple hits in Omaha.
Smith isn’t a power hitter, but he puts the ball in play and sprays the ball to all parts of the field. In 2019, Smith’s K-BB ratio was 1.27-1, as he struck out just 22 times and walked 16 times. The LHH’s OPS was .722 and he posted a fielding percentage of .963. First base is not Smith’s natural position. The senior played catcher in high school, but with the starter and back up roles already filled for 2019, Smith was moved all around the infield as FSU just wanted to get his bat in the lineup. Smith practiced at every single INF position over the course of the 2019 season and can be a fine plug-and-play, but he will look uncomfortable or out of place from time-to-time.
I’d expect Smith to be FSU’s main DH in 2020 and be used as the backup catcher to Mat Nelson. Smitty could also play third or second if FSU’s new starters struggle at those positions, but FSU would like to save him to spell Nelson some days behind the dish or to make sure he’s healthy incase Nelly comes down with an injury. The senior will likely hit from anywhere in the 5-7 range in the lineup. Smith gives the coaching staff a good bit of flexibility and also reliability in his senior year.