Mets Minors: The evolution of Dominic Smith

This past year the Mets promoted their #1 and #2 prospects, Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, to the majors for the tail end of the 2017 season.  While the audition was short, Mets fans and management didn’t take long to turn on their young first baseman.  He was overweight, he wasn’t hitting for average and the defense was pretty poor.  Clearly the Mets were mad to let Lucas Duda go and clearly they need to get a new solution to this vital hitting position.  Right?

 

Let us hop in the Way Back Machine and take a look at Smith’s evolution as a Met prospect before we answer that…

 

2013:

 

The Mets had the 11th overall pick (thanks to draft shenanigans) which had forced them to be unable to sign any restricted free agent (for fear of losing said pick).  Scouts predicted the Mets might go with a first baseman but predicted Sandy Alderson drafting the powerful D.J. Peterson.  Instead the Mets went with the Smith, whose bat held less power but projected as a plus contact tool.  His bat speed was excellent and his defensive numbers looked like he’d been an asset in the field.

 

His 51 Game audition with the GCL and APP Mets was also promising.  He displayed some extra base power, good plate control and there was plenty of reason to be optimistic about the 18 year old prospect.

 

2014:

 

The Mets moved Smith along to Savannah and, like most hitters in the Met system, he struggled.  His OPS was .683 over the season wasn’t great and his power numbers were fairly pathetic.  Scouts wrote this off as a sign of the ballpark, rather than a sign that Smith was shot.

 

2015:

 

The 2015 season started really badly for Smith who had a .220/.256/.244 slash line through 11 April games.  Then things got slowly better.  His OPS went up to .750 in May, to .869 in june and he finished the year with a slash line of .305/.354/.417 which impressed many.  Some bloggers, like David Groveman, wondered if the Mets would be satisfied with a first baseman who only hit 6 home runs in the season but many fans stayed with Smith and pointed to his 33 doubles with hope and optimism.

 

2016:

 

When Smith reached AA is when most fans took notice.  While he didn’t look like a second coming of Mike Piazza, his numbers reminded many of Keith Hernandez or Jon Olerud.  His line for the year was an impressive .302/.367/.457 with 14 home runs and 29 doubles.  His contact and plate control were both still positive tools and the scouting reports still indicated that Smith was going to be a plus defender.  Now, going into 2017, the fans were actually paying attention and many wondered what the future for Duda would be with a talented prospect, like Smith, in the wings.

 

2017:

 

With the Mets playing in the hitters paradise of Las Vegas it’s easy to discount the minor league season Smith had.  At 22 he managed a .905 OPS over 114 games, though he struggled (like many seem to) with the infield of Las Vegas.  His splits were even more impressive, as Smith seemed to strike out more in April only to recover to his more typical numbers afterward.  His power was also up, evidenced by his 16 home runs and 34 doubles in a 114 game stint.  The Mets were right to trade Duda (though not for as little as they did) to give Smith a taste of the majors.

 

Then, he got to the majors and the wheels fell off.  In the 49 games he played at the level he struck out once per game, hit for a measly .198 average and looked awful in the field.  He did manage 9 home runs, which was surprising considering the scouting reports and finished with a .658 OPS.

 

Looking ahead…

 

2018:

 

It’s easy to say the Mets need more from first base than Smith showed in 2017 but to say that his 49 games were prophetic is a bit of a stretch.  The biggest troubling factor that can be seen is how the Met brass has already turned on him.  The team is already calling Smith overweight and suggesting that the Mets should trade for Jose Abreu or sign Carlos Santana.  Others suggest a Terry Collins approach of signing a platoon-mate to split time with Smith and face all of the lefty starters.

 

To me, all of these suggestions sound like panic.  The Mets have to give their prospects more of a chance than that and people can’t forget that the Mets have another internal option who’ll be knocking at the door by the end of the season as well.  Between Smith and Peter Alonso, the Mets shouldn’t be looking at first base… but they are.

 

What are your thoughts on Smith?

 

Are the Mets being too hasty in moving on?

 

Was Smith a mistake from the start?

19 comments for “Mets Minors: The evolution of Dominic Smith

  1. Jimmy P
    December 4, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Given all the holes in this team, I’m inclined to give Smith a shot at this. And yes, with Alonso in the wings — maybe less than a year away — I don’t see the point of signing somebody/anybody to block the position for the next 3-4 years.

    Of course, this assumes payroll limitations and that it would allow Mets to sign a guy like Cain for CF and at least two pitchers and a new 2B.

    I should add that I don’t have high hopes for Smith, but I’m open to being pleasantly surprised. I’d be happy if he fulfilled his profile of being a good BA hitter who can go to all fields. I’d be very surprised if the glove is ever above average. He’s short and slow.

    • David Groveman
      December 4, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      A couple things in response,

      1) I would rank the Met needs as follows:

      3B>SP>CF>RP>C>2B>1B

      2) Why are we all so desperate to keep Wilmer Flores from playing second for a year without the Collins platoon on?

      3) Why are the Mets owners still running this team that they don’t seem to like very much? There is no reason for the Mets to have a budget limit as a small market team.

      • Jimmy P
        December 4, 2017 at 3:01 pm

        I believe Cabrera was retained as a cheap 3B option. Position filled.

        They need a quality starter and a durable, high-quality reliever.

        They need a 2B who can field the position.

        They need a transfusion — better defense, more speed, new faces & attitude. Everyday I read about how Mets should bring back Bruce, Walker, Reyes, Reed. I don’t get it. Other teams are getting younger, faster, more athletic. Our plan is: Nobody gets hurt this year! Because water!

        Catcher isn’t going to change this year. Sandy isn’t a workaholic! Oldest GM in baseball needs his rest.

        Flores is “Plan B” at 1B if they keep Smith.

        The owners are a disgrace and are definitely the #1 problem with this franchise. I remain shocked by how many fans continue to be apologists for these criminals.

  2. Chris F
    December 4, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Back to Smith after 52 comments from the past week in the other thread!!

    My thought on Smith remains dependent on what the look for the team is.

    Are we mostly rebuilding? Sure play Smith. Let him grow into this, or see of its possible to.

    Are we mostly going for it? I dont think hes a good fit. So we should get someone. Smith is still a year of what will be painful mistakes to watch before he’s likely a serviceable player.

    Flores? He’s simply so poor at every defensive spot that letting him have 500-600 ABs is waving the white flag. He is a 1 dimensional player, a perfect DH. I would move him out this winter and not make it an issue. Maybe the White Sox would be interested in a bundle package for Abreu?

    Ownership
    No matter the protestations otherwise, this is not an ownership where winning and developing a winning culture matters. This is an ultimate-boys-club experience where they wheel and deal in monopoly money and get satisfaction from that power. When it comes to being baseball-first, this team has a lot to learn from other owners.

    • Jimmy P
      December 4, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      The last time the Wilpons spoke directly to the fans was during the team’s run in 2015. We all deserve better.

  3. Metsense
    December 4, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Smith is only 22 years old and has plenty of time before he is out of options. He should get many opportunities to play in the future. While watching him play at the end of the season he looked out of shape, slow and overwhelmed. It was not a good impression. He is in a training program and hopefully he has learned that baseball is a very competitive business. As a fan, I want the Mets to put an above average first baseman on the field in 2018. Smith does not give me the confidence, at this point, that he is above average. The Mets should sign a power hitting OF/1B for 2018.

    • Chris F
      December 4, 2017 at 6:45 pm

      Duda?

      • December 4, 2017 at 9:25 pm

        OF Chris! You forgot the disaster when Ike was at first and Duda in the outfield? No more like Bruce. it’s a good message to send to Smith who apparently read all the hype and forgot that he’s done nothing in the big leagues to solidify his place in the starting line up. it’s a wake up call and he’s only 22.

        • Chris F
          December 4, 2017 at 11:26 pm

          right, OF. My bad. Ive written of 1B entirely apparently! Thanks for the course correction!

  4. Name
    December 4, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Perhaps it’s time to temper our expectations when it comes to Bingotown. A lot of guys struggle before AA never topping the 800 OPS mark, break out with 800+ OPS to get Mets fan giddy, but fail to amount to much later on.

    In 2010 it was Sean Ratliff
    In 2011 it was Valdespin
    In 2013 it was Puello
    IN 2014 it was Reynolds
    In 2015 it was Cecchini
    In 2016 it’s very likely Smith ends up earning this honor.
    In 2017 no one’s going to get this label because no regular had a .800+ OPS

    • Chris F
      December 4, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      Excellent info there Name.

      • December 4, 2017 at 8:54 pm

        Dominic Smith and the offensive numbers at Binghamton
        http://mets360.com/?p=31400

        • David Groveman
          December 6, 2017 at 11:30 am

          Dominic Smith has shown a need to adjust to each level (except AA). It’s absurd to expect a player to immediately prove his worth in a 40 game audition.

          • December 6, 2017 at 12:11 pm

            Why is this a comment to me and the link I posted from Feb. of 2017?

            • David Groveman
              December 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm

              I was responding to Name just pinging off the overall line.

  5. TJ
    December 4, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    I think it is premature to say the Mets have given up on Dominic Smith,or that they are looking to run him out of town. They do need to keep all options on the table in order to remain flexible and prepared for any scenario that can improve the team for 2018 and beyond.

  6. Chris F
    December 4, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Sign Jose Abreu, give the White Sox Flores, Smith, and Lugo/Gsellman.

    • David Groveman
      December 6, 2017 at 11:31 am

      I’m not opposed to Abreu but given his contract that offer is too much, in my opinion.

  7. Mike Walczak
    December 5, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    They need to give the kid a chance. Look how Conforto turned around. Rather have Smith than a piece of junk like Lind.

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