PHILADELPHIA -- Dominic Smith grabbed his cell phone from a shelf in his locker, pointing to the sizable crack that snarled across its face. Initially when Smith dropped the phone on the floor of Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport late Thursday, life still flickered on the screen. By the time
PHILADELPHIA -- Dominic Smith grabbed his cell phone from a shelf in his locker, pointing to the sizable crack that snarled across its face. Initially when Smith dropped the phone on the floor of Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport late Thursday, life still flickered on the screen. By the time Smith arrived at Citizens Bank Park on Friday for his big league debut, a 7-6 Mets win over the Phillies, his phone was a brick.
"I can just imagine all the people texting," Smith said, laughing. "I can hear my phone vibrate but I can't see anything."
Smith's mother and brother, who traveled across the country to watch him play in Philadelphia, still hadn't heard from him by game's end. But they certainly saw him. The Mets' second-ranked prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, Smith debuted amid much fanfare, including a television camera that followed him onto the field for the first time.
When Smith bounced a single up the middle in his second plate appearance, Yoenis Cespedes rushed from the dugout to collect the souvenir baseball, which the rookie plans to give to one of his parents. When the Mets double-switched Smith out of the game in the sixth inning, shortly after a Freddy Galvis double scooted under his mitt, pockets of fans offered a warm ovation.
"Your first at-bat, your first ground ball, your first everything, you get a little bit of nerves," Smith said. "But right after that stuff happens, it kind of goes away. Your instincts kick in and you just remember it's baseball."
If the Mets' vision becomes reality, Smith will grow comfortable in short order. A left-handed hitter who batted .330 with 16 home runs at Triple-A Las Vegas, Smith was the Mets' top Draft pick -- 11th overall -- in 2013. He started at first base and batted sixth in his big league debut, becoming the ninth MLB-affiliated Compton Academy alumnus to reach the Majors.
"I'm just hoping that everything I heard about him, how he played in Vegas, he continues to do here," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
The road to the Majors was not always smooth for Smith, who battled weight issues and skepticism of scouts throughout his Minor League career. Though Smith lost 24 pounds last winter, largely by cutting fast food from his diet, he regained some living a Triple-A lifestyle of small towns and late-night meals. Being in a big league clubhouse where nutritious food is readily available, Smith said, should help him maintain a healthy playing weight in the future.
And if that frees Smith to "absolutely mash," as Collins put it, the Mets will encourage it. With Smith, top prospect Amed Rosario (who hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning Friday), 24-year-old All-Star Michael Conforto and Cespedes all under team control through at least 2020, the Mets feel they have a formidable offensive core in place. Throw in what the Mets still consider a premier pitching staff, and their vision for a bounceback 2018 takes shape.
Those plans began with waves of starting pitching, continued with Conforto and Cespedes in 2015 and, this year, with Rosario and Smith.
The latter learned of his promotion when Las Vegas manager Pedro Lopez called him to Cashman Field around 2 p.m. Thursday, under the guise of repairing Smith's broken sleep apnea machine. The story sounded just suspicious enough for Smith to suspect the truth: that he was about to race back to his apartment, pack, call his parents, stuff his broken smartphone into his pocket and board a red-eye to Philadelphia, in what he called "a pretty crazy past 24 hours."
"I was pretty much lost for words," Smith said. "I'm super excited. I feel very accomplished and stuff like that. But I know it's just the beginning."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.