Canaan Smith-Njigba

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Canaan Elijah Smith-Njigba

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Biographical Information[edit]

While playing in the minor leagues, OF Canaan Smith-Njigba was known simply as Canaan Smith before asking to be called by his full last name. He was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the 4th round of the 2017 amateur draft. He dropped a commitment to attend the University of Arkansas to sign with the Yankees. He was a Gulf Coast League All-Star in his first pro season in 2017 and a South Atlantic League All-Star with the Charleston RiverDogs in 2019, also being named a Low Class-A All-Star by Baseball America that year.

On January 24, 2021, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates along with Roansy Contreras, Maikel Escotto and Miguel Yajure in return for ace pitcher Jameson Taillon. He made his major league debut with the Pirates on June 14, 2022 when he pinch-hit for Yu Chang in the 9th inning of a 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the first game of a doubleheader. He doubled off closer Giovanny Gallegos for his first major league hit, then started the second game in left field. He went 0 for 2 in that game, in which Cards pitcher Miles Mikolas had a no-hitter until two were out in the 9th, but he was one of the few Bucs players to reach base against Mikolas when he was hit by a pitch in the 2nd inning. He was the fourth rookie outfielder to debut for the Bucs in the first three months of the season, following Jack Suwinski, Cal Mitchell and Travis Swaggerty; when he replaced Swaggerty on the roster, Suwinski and Mitchell were both playing fairly regularly - and indeed, it was Mitchell who finally broke Mikolas' no-hit bid. Smith-Nijgba was 1 for 5 before his rookie season was cut short by a wrist injury.

He also played football in high school, which is a bit of a family tradition. His father Maada Smith played college football at Stephen F. Austin University while his younger brother Jaxon Smith-Njigba has been a standout college player as a wide receiver at Ohio State University.

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