Pirates Prospects Daily: Canaan Smith-Njigba Continues To Hit The Ball Hard

Spring training statistics aren’t always a great indicator of the progress a player has made. There are often so many factors that can alter the value of some of the base numbers, even more so than the small sample size we are already dealing with.

That being said, there are some things you can watch out for, especially on a player-by-player basis, to see if they have made any adjustments from one year to another.

For Canaan Smith-Njigba, his overall power numbers haven’t always been a true indication of what he possesses. 

He’s always possessed raw power, it was just a matter of putting the ball in play the right way to properly showcase it.

That’s what he has done this spring, as after his performance on Friday, Smith-Njigba has now hit a home run in two of his last three games, and overall has been driving the ball really had.

Through 18 batted ball events, he has an exit velocity of 92.68 mph, with 11 of them ‘hard hit’ (95 mph+). In fact, 33.3% of his batted balls have traveled at least 100 mph off the bat.

While that’s nothing new for him really, the difference has been in his ability to lift the ball more consistently. He currently has a line drive rate of 27%, and has an average launch angle of 9.5°. 

There hasn’t been many outfielders to truly separate themselves from the pack early on, with Connor Joe playing better lately, and Travis Swaggerty maybe being the most consistent performer all spring.

While the path to Pittsburgh to start the season would likely have to come at the expense of an injury occurring, Smith-Njigba has shown the kind of adjustments you would want to see. He has put himself to be in position to be one of the first call ups when the team should need an outfielder.

Pirates Prospects Daily

By John Dreker

The Pirates won 6-2 yesterday at home against the Tampa Bay Rays. Osvaldo Bido tossed two strong innings, Canaan Smith-Njigba, Ji-Man Choi and Mason Martin all homered. Here’s the boxscore. The Pirates are home against the Minnesota Twins this afternoon. The lineup will be posted below once in becomes available. You can use the comments for a game discussion.

**Pirates DVR: Oneil Cruz RBI, Connor Joe Three Hits, Angel Perdomo Strikeouts

**Pirates Prospects Daily: The Dariel Lopez Injury is an Unfortunate Set Back

Song of the Day

Today’s Lineup

1:05 PM start. TV game. Home vs Minnesota Twins

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

Support Pirates Prospects

Related articles

join the discussion

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Something tells me Swaggerty gets his chance and a couple hundred AB’s to see what he’s got. It’s time. It’s not as if he’ll be holding anyone back.

Wilbur Miller

Unless something changes in the next ten days, I’m not seeing how you cut CSN or Swags without admitting the whole idea of job competition was a crock from the start. Especially if you keep Suh-wing-and-misski.


I hate how they seemed to hand Suwinski a job. Strikes out way too much and can’t play center at all.


Especially Swags. He is hitting AND playing great defense!


Super different situations, though.

Swag is halfway to 26 and fully baked, showing here in ST and frankly last year in AAA that there’s not much left than to sit or get off the pot.

CSN isn’t even 24, and unless someone who can analyze swings way better than me can say he’s fixed his then has a huge amount of technical development left. Kebryan Hayes’ bat as a marginal corner outfield is barely a big leaguer even on a crappy team, and I don’t know that I see a part time big league role as the place to make swing changes.

They just need to accept Suwinski is a platoon bat and put guys in positions to succeed, this is so freaking annoying.

Wilbur Miller

One thing to add about Swags, especially wrt his age — he essentially missed two years, 2020-21, then had 2022 disrupted by family situations. So you could argue this is his first chance to put a real season together since he was 22. If you don’t buy that, I can’t really argue, but it’s, well, maybe something.


A very good explanation WTM, but he is still going into his age 26 season and has finally kept it all together long enough to show his capabilities. He’s a lock to make the active roster and get a lot of PT early. I hope he continues this quality of play.

CSN is still young and missed a whole lot of games in 2022. I like the projection of him being one of the first to be called up if he also continues his quality of play, especially with the bat. A lot of work got him to this point, and I hope a continuation of that hard work will pay some huge dividends for him.

At this point, BC has to be questioning the trades for both Joe and ‘Cutch – one RH OF hitter yes, but the kids developing quicker than expected have made it near impossible to get meaningful AB’s for both.

Wilbur Miller

I think it’s clear that Nutting’s involvement came about because BC had OF/1B/DH all plotted out and Cutch didn’t fit. The question now is who gets squeezed out.

Wilbur Miller

Hard to see any of them as long term solutions. But Swaggerty is by far their best defensive OF, so short term he doesn’t have to hit a ton to be a valid choice.
CSN they see, based on Statcast, as being a lot more than what he’s shown. And he HAS missed a ton of time. So maybe they’re right, maybe not.
Jack’s whiffery issues are getting worse, not better. I don’t know the answer, but there’s zero evidence Haines is part of it.


Well said Wilbur.


Suwinski is going to be a hot and cold player. Opening day he might have 2 home runs and five RBIs. Then he might not have a hit for two weeks. That is going to be his MO. For now Swaggerty is hands-down, our best centerfielder and should start day one, which improves us in left field too by locking Cutch in as DH. Not worrying about reducing Santana’s ABs. CSN is only having a great spring in comparison to other Pirates. Faint praise you know. You should think about going somewhere for perspective, like Hawaii for example!

Wilbur Miller

At this point, Santana seems to me to be just in the way of them making more forward looking decisions. Signing Cutch, which was good, really altered the makeup.

Wilbur Miller

Gotta like the three-strike sequence on Keller’s last K. Trusting gameday, of course, but cutter – sinker – sweeper looks good.


Keller against lefties, cutter good, sinker inside not good!


With all of the OF competition, today’s starting lineup will give 3-4 PAs to Mathias in LF. WTF?

Last edited 5 days ago by CTBucco
Wilbur Miller

Starting to look like he should be at 2B.


Would love to see a swing comparison, could be exciting if the numbers were backed by some intentional development.


For a team whose strength should be pitching, we need Swaggerty or another plus CF which shifts Suwinski to RF and sends CSN to Indy. But if Swags makes the roster, CSN would become the first player I’d call up when there is a need. Given Suwinski’s K struggles, Cutch’s age, and Swag’s lack of experience, I’d guess that there will be an opportunity by May 1.


Anthony, when you mention it will likely take an injury for Canaan to make the roster, what is your assumed roster makeup? Are you thinking OF = Reynolds, Cutch, Joe, Jack, +1 or just those 4. And in the 5 OF scenario are you counting Swags as on the team?

I wanted to trigger another Jack shouldn’t be on the roster thread but we have likely discussed that to death. But for fun… Jack now has 15 K’s in 24 spring at bats and Drew Maggi has 3 HR’s. So, my assumption at this point is, I can’t read the decision makers minds so I’ll just make some popcorn, watch March Madness and wait for the final roster decision in about 10 days.


I’m hoping your third paragraph holds true. While I still struggle with Jack’s K rate, his power in ’22 and I think most of our vows to ignore spring training stats makes it hard to send him down. I also have no insight to how he really looks (fouling off pitches and then K’ing or overwhelmed). If they stick with Cutch saying he will mostly DH, then they really need that 5th outfielder so I truly hope CSN or Swags makes it and actually gets some playing time. If they plan on using the 5th OF once a week or less and that person doubles as the ’emergency’ backup infielder with minimal playing time, then they might as well employ a fungible veteran( ie. if the 26th man is like an extra coach vs rotational player).


Ah come on bro, 85th percentile max exit velo means you should have ever bit of confidence the dingers weren’t luck.

The big delta between average and max is an indicator of untapped upside; you don’t luck into max exit velo, so if you can clean up your poor contact then you’ll have a greater opportunity for improved contact quality than if you were, say, Kevin Newman and forced to figure out how to hit the ball significantly harder in general.

Now there’s a chance they ruined him with the early promotion since he clearly maintained poor habits developed while failing in the show after they demoted him to AAA.

I won’t argue that.

And I also said from the get-go his potential was wildly inflated after the hot start last year, so with you that he shouldn’t block potentially better all-around players.

But to give up on him completely in favor of a dude who puts about 60% of his contact on the ground without much less swing and miss while butchering a corner outfield position…I don’t know buddy, I don’t know.

Wilbur Miller

As I kinda said above, you’re looking at a flawed cast of characters and they just have to make some calls. There are two certainties that I see: Swag’s D is uniquely, for this team, high-quality, and Jack’s swing and miss isn’t remotely sustainable.


Let him go to Indy and continue to hit the ball well. Unfortunately, like Cal Mitchell, most of his value is going to come from the bat, as neither fields well.


He seems like a much better fielder than Cal to me?


Not saying much, tho. Cal is Josh Bell bad out on the OF. CSN is merely below average.


Come on Lee, Cal is not that bad of an outfielder, I will say average with a below average arm.


Sure, PR, sure. Keep believing that? I guess you didn’t watch many games last year? 🤣🤣🤣


Wilbur Miller

Face it, any time Swags isn’t in it, the OF is gonna suck defensively. Only question is what flavor of suck.

Last edited 5 days ago by Wilbur Miller



Ben and Jerry’s Brownie Batter. You can’t tell a good ice cream like you can’t tell a bad outfielder.😜😜😜😜


I agree, Lee. Plenty of up & down movement expected this season, he hits, he’ll get a chance.

Share article

Pirates Prospects Daily

Latest articles

Pirates Prospects Weekly

MONDAY: First Pitch

TUESDAY: Article Drop


THURSDAY: Roundtable

FRIDAY: Discussion

SATURDAY: Pirates Draft Report

SUNDAY: Pirates Business

Latest comments

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x