Mallex Smith released by Mexican winter league team

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Braves outfielder Mallex Smith was released by the Hermosillo Naranjeros after struggling during his first 2 1/2 weeks with the Mexican winter league team.

Smith had been scheduled to play for the Naranjeros until late November but was dropped from their roster Friday after batting .109 (5-for-46) with two walks, 12 strikeouts, a .157 OBP and .418 OPS in 12 games. He had two triples, one home run, three RBIs and two stolen bases in three attempts.

As a 23-year-old rookie in 2016, Smith hit .238 with a .316 OBP and .681 OPS in 72 games for the Braves and had 14 extra-base hits (four triples, three home runs) and 16 stolen bases in 215 plate appearances. He missed 10 weeks with a broken thumb after being hit by a pitch June 19 and didn’t play much after coming off the disabled list in September.

He’s expected to compete for a roster spot during spring training, but will likely be a bench player or return to Triple-A unless the Braves trade one of their starting outfielders — Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte, Matt Kemp — this winter.

In his last 42 games before the thumb injury, Smith hit .272 with a .778 OPS, and he led the Braves with 14 stolen bases and a .349 average with runners in scoring position at the time of the injury.