When Amed Rosario was called up to make his Major League debut on August 1, most felt it wouldn't be long before fellow Mets prospect Dominic Smith would follow. With the trade of Jay Bruce to Cleveland on Wednesday night, that opened up a spot on the 25-man roster and
When Amed Rosario was called up to make his Major League debut on August 1, most felt it wouldn't be long before fellow Mets prospect Dominic Smith would follow. With the trade of Jay Bruce to Cleveland on Wednesday night, that opened up a spot on the 25-man roster and it was Smith who was called to fill it.
Ever since the Mets traded Lucas Duda away before the deadline in July, it seemed they were preparing to make room for Smith, the club's No. 2 prospect and No. 41 overall. And like when Rosario was brought up, he should be in there the majority of the time for the remainder of the season as the organization starts to prepare for the future.
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Judging by how he has handled himself throughout his professional career, expect him to handle the bat well. With the exception of his first full season, he's hit .300 at every stop and carries a career .302 average with him to New York. With his innate ability to make consistent hard contact, Smith has always kept his strikeout total low, with his 87 K's in 2017 a career high, while drawing a fair amount of walks. In other words, he rarely wastes a plate appearance.
It's always been hit over power for the left-handed hitter, with an ability to drive the ball to all fields. Extra-base pop has always been there, though it was mostly in the form of doubles during his first two full seasons. In 2016, with the move up to Double-A, he started clearing fences a bit more often, more than doubling his career home run total heading into the season (13) with 14 dingers. He's upped that to 16 in 2017, and his slugging percentage has risen in each of his full seasons (.338 in 2014, .417 in 2015, .457 in 2016 and .519 to date in 2017).
Before pointing out that he has the benefit of playing home games in hitter-friendly Las Vegas, take a look at his splits. While more of his home run power has come at home (10 vs 6 home runs in an equal 57 games both in Vegas and on the road), he's hit .336/.383/.489 away from home. He's far from a creation of his environment.
While the start to his August has been a little slow, Smith was the Pacific Coast League's Player of the Month in July thanks to his .385/.437/.725 line with eight homers and 26 RBIs in 26 games. That's a bit much to expect over a longer period, and certainly not at the highest level, but he's proven that his approach and ability to pile up base hits will work anywhere he is. Keep in mind that he's put up these numbers as one of the younger regulars at every level he's played, including being 4.4 years younger than the average hitter in the PCL this year.
And he's far from a one-dimensional player. Defense from a first baseman is often underappreciated, but it shouldn't be. Smith is an outstanding defender, with great hands and footwork around the bag. The rest of the Mets infield will be very happy to see him on the receiving end of throws.
The two things that will ultimately determine how big of an impact Smith has at the big league level are his conditioning and his future power. At 6-foot and 239 pounds, he's not exactly a physical prototype. He's worked hard to get in better shape and it hasn't been an issue, but as he gets older, he'll have to increase his efforts to make sure it doesn't become a problem.
As for his power, there might be more to come as he continues to learn how to tap into it. The Mets won't, and shouldn't, want him to change his approach in any capacity, and it wouldn't be surprising if he focuses on just adjusting to pitching at the new level and focusing on contact, letting the power come naturally in the future. Even if it's just touching average, it's hard to imagine anyone complaining about a first baseman who can hit .300 with 15 homers annually while playing outstanding defense.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.