NEW YORK -- Before the Mets defeated the D-backs, 4-2, on Wednesday night at Citi Field, Mets manager Terry Collins pondered a question during his pregame news conference about rookie first baseman Dominic Smith.Yes, Collins likes that the left-handed Smith has natural power to the opposite field. But once in
NEW YORK -- Before the Mets defeated the D-backs, 4-2, on Wednesday night at Citi Field, Mets manager Terry Collins pondered a question during his pregame news conference about rookie first baseman Dominic Smith.
Yes, Collins likes that the left-handed Smith has natural power to the opposite field. But once in a while, Collins said, he'd like to see Smith get the bat head out front and punish an opposing pitcher's mistake to the pull side for power.
Smith spoke his manager's words into existence when he drilled a homer to right off reliever Jake Barrett to lead off the sixth inning. The ball left Smith's bat at 97.9 mph and traveled a projected 382 feet, per Statcast™, on the second pitch of the at-bat, a 94.5-mph inside fastball.
"That's exactly what we're talking about. ... He really got the bat through the strike zone quickly and got it out front," Collins said. "If he learns how to do that, he's got a chance to hit the ball over the fence."
After it took him most of his Minor League career to bloom into a power hitter, Smith, the Mets' No. 2 prospect, hit a career-high 16 home runs with Triple-A Las Vegas this season before his promotion on Aug. 11. That he's already hit three home runs in 44 plate appearances in the Majors does not come as a shock to him.
"It doesn't surprise me at all," Smith said. "I knew it was in there. People who were with me on an everyday basis knew it was in there."
On Tuesday, Smith pinch-hit in the ninth inning and ripped a double to the gap in right-center, yet another example of his pull capabilities. The caliber of pitching between the Majors and Triple-A has been an adjustment for Smith, he admitted. Through 13 games, Smith is hitting .190. But he feels he's improving every day.
"They throw harder, pound the zone harder, and it's a little tougher to pick up balls," Smith said. "I've just been working trying to pick up pitches, trying to lay off pitches, trying to put my 'A' swing on pitches to hit the ball hard."
The fruits of that labor became evident Wednesday. In the at-bat before the home run, Smith worked the second walk of his career. As for catching up to an inside fastball, a number of factors leads to him sending it over the wall.
"A lot of reaction," Smith said. "Just a lot of preparation and just muscle memory type of things ... don't try to do too much, just drop the hands and put the barrel on it."
Chris Bumbaca is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.