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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 69: Colby Smelley

We know one thing: The kid can hit

Want to know how weak the White Sox catching depth is? Colby Smelley is our No. 3-ranked catcher, and he caught in fewer than one-third of his games in 2022.

Colby Smelley

195 pounds
Age: 23
2022 SSS Top Prospect Rank 94
2022 High Level Winston-Salem (High-A)
Age relative to high level -0.5 years
SSS rank among all catchers in the system 3
Overall 2022 stats 103 games (32 C, 70 DH) ⚾️ 4 HR ⚾️ 44 RBI ⚾️ .262/.373/.361 ⚾️ 51 BB ⚾️ 103 K ⚾️ 14-of-60 (29.3%) CS

Colby Smelley, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., stayed in his hometown to play college ball for Shelton State Community College. He enjoyed a terrific two years with the Buccaneers, culminating in 2021 by slashing .436/.536/.687 in 54 games with 16 doubles, nine homers, 48 RBIs, 29 walks and 27 strikeouts. As a reward for his efforts, he signed with the Sox after being selected in the 13th round the 2021 draft.

Like many of the catchers who played in the ACL, Smelley didn’t receive much playing time. In nine games totaling 29 at-bats, he slashed .241/.267/.310 with two doubles, a walk and eight strikeouts. While he threw out just 22% of attempted base stealers with Shelton State in 2021, Smelley nailed 2-of-4 such attempts for the Arizona squad. He did play some outfield in college as well, so he may have a bit more versatility than most catchers.

That supposed versatility, however, did not serve Smelley well behind the plate in 2022. He was, in a word, atrocious as a backstop at both levels of A-ball, with mediocre CS numbers (no surprise, given the rules changes), six errors and seven passed balls — in 32 games! At age 22, it seems Smelley has settled into a ... DH role?

Problem there is, Smelley hit for no power in 2022, although he can definitely get on base via hit or walk (.373 OBP).

Smelley’s Baseball Cube player ratings
RBIs 63
Hitting 58
Contact 47
Durability 47
XBH 36
Power 33
Speed 18
Runs 12
Team Winning Percentage .560

It’s very soon into Smelley’s career to be a crossroads, but frankly, it’s tough to survive as a catcher who cannot catch. He simply must improve enough behind the plate to be worth rostering, because as well as he gets on base, the demand for age-appropriate low-minors DH-onlys cannot be too great.

2023 South Side Sox Top 102 White Sox Prospects

69. Colby Smelley, C
70. Ethan Hammerberg, RHRP
71. Lincoln Henzman, RHRP
72. Vince Vannelle, RHRP
73. Brooks Baldwin, 3B-2B
74. James Beard, CF
75. Gabriel Rodríguez, RHSP
76. Ronny Hernandez, C
77. Troy Claunch, C
78. Brooks Gosswein, LHSP
79. Tim Elko, 1B
80. Yoelvín Silven, RHRP
81. Trey Jeans, LHRP
82. Jerry Burke, RHSP
83. Carlos Jiménez, 1B
84. Mason Adams, RHSP
85. Frankeli Arias, LHSP
86. Ernesto Jaquez, RHSP
87. Laz Rivera, 3B
88. Xavier Fernández, C
89. Álvaro Agüero, CF
90. Ben Norman, RF
91. Erick Bello, RHRP
92. Adisyn Coffey, RHRP
93. Arnold Prado, RF
94. Alsander Womack, 2B
95. Johan Domínguez, RHSP
96. Evan Skoug, C
97. Noah Owen, RHSP
98. Javier Mora, 2B
99. Will Kincanon, RHRP
100. Yohemy Nolasco, RHSP
101. Billy Seidl, RHRP
102. José Rodulfo, RHRP