Will Smith: The Fresh Prince of Chavez Ravine

Will Smith
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Now this is a story about how Will Smith became the Prince of a place called Chavez Ravine. In Louisville, born and raised, on the baseball diamond is where he spent most of his days. Smith has become one, if not, the top catcher in Major League Baseball. On a Los Angeles Dodgers roster that is loaded with superstars like Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts, Will Smith has quietly become one of the team leaders.


Originally undrafted in 2013 out of Kentucky Country Day School,   Smith attended the University of Louisville. During his junior year for the Cardinals, he hit .382 with seven home runs while driving in 43. He was drafted in the first round by the Dodgers in 2016. After working his way through the minors, Smith was called up by the Dodgers on May 27, 2019. He hit his first home run as a walk-off against the Philadelphia Phillies. He was sent down briefly to the Oklahoma City Dodgers, but was called up permanently in July 2019. Smith was named the starting catcher around that time as well. Smith finished the season slashing .253/.337/.571 in 54 games with 15 homers and 42 RBI.

World Champion

In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season,  Smith played in 37 games for the World Champion Dodgers and hit .289/.401/.579 with eight home runs and 25 RBI. He added one home run in the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays off of another Will Smith. Following the World Series, the real work began for Smith. He did well at the plate, but struggled with his defense behind it. It’s understandable considering that it’s the most physically demanding position on the field. He spent the offseason working on his defensive game. Smith put in hours to work on pitch framing and how to call a game with pitchers like future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. Smith told reporters: “I started to really learn, when it comes to the game calling and all that. It just takes time.”

All-Star off the Field

2022 was another good year for Smith at the plate, but was just as valuable off the field with the birth of his daughter, Charlotte with wife Cara. He and Cara also founded their charity, the Catching Hope Foundation. The charity helps at-risk low income kids develop skills needed to succeed and stay off the streets.

All Star On the Field

Smith made his first All-Star team in 2023. The Boys in Blue hope it’s the first of many. At the All-Star Break,  he was 11th in the league in OPS, while taking huge steps forward defensively. He went from last in the league to top 20% in pitch framing. Kershaw had this to say about Smith “What he does offensively, as well as doing what we need to do with the pitching staff and taking pride in that, he makes it look easy.” He has become a favorite among Dodger fans. They always look forward to watching him play. As he draws comparisons to Dodger greats. like Mike Piazza and Roy Campanella, Smith looks to reign Chavez Ravine for years to come.


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