Mets Minors: Dominic Smith and the importance of quick starts

Going into Spring Training, it was a foregone conclusion that the Mets would be having Adrian Gonzalez and Wilmer Flores as their tandem at first base. Unless Dominic Smith could have obliterated the baseball to unforeseen proportions the Mets would send him to AAA Las Vegas for at least a few months. However, there was a glimmer of hope for Smith.

If Gonzalez didn’t hit a lick and Smith had, then you’d have a very public display for the fans to force Sandy Alderson and company to allow the kid to play. To this point, Gonzalez had a pathetic Spring Training debut and looked about as bad as many fans thought he’d be. Unfortunately for Smith, injury reared its ugly head at the worst possible time and Smith barely played at all.

That is why we now find Smith in AAA where he’s manning first base for the Las Vegas 51s. Finally healthy, Smith needs to remind the decision makers that they have another viable option in place of A-Gon.

Three games in and Dominic Smith is doing just that. He’s got 10 at bats, four hits and three of them have been for extra bases (Two doubles and one home run). Add that, at least so far, his defense is still immaculate and it should certainly make Mickey Callaway ponder his options should the major leaguers struggle.

This quick start is exactly the type of thing that Smith desperately needed after his no show in Port St. Lucie this spring. Meanwhile Gonzalez has hit, with only a sliver of power, and should be able to hold the position for a few more weeks, regardless of what Smith does. AAA is a lot lower profile than the televised Spring Training games but people are watching and gaudy numbers will force the issue.

AAA:

Zack Wheeler doing his own “Quick Start Showcase” – 5.0 innings with only 3 hits and 1 walk is all the more impressive for being in the PCL. The 6 Ks aren’t a bit unwelcome either.  It was enough for the Mets to announce that they would be promoting him to start on Wednesday.  Stay tuned to see who gets sent down.

Luis Guillorme needs to catch that magic – His OPS over the same 3 games is under .700 but he’s not gotten a single of his characteristic walks.

AA:

Peter Alonso agrees that he was ready for AAA – He’s off to a blistering start with 5 hits in 11 at bats with 2 doubles and 2 home runs to show for it.

Tomas Nido wants Vegas – While he will be in Las Vegas eventually, Nido has started with a very seemly .962 OPS. The Mets want to make sure he and Jose Lobaton both get their innings.

John Mora riding his OBP – His three early walks are a large reason for his healthy OPS but he also has a triple and a home run to his credit.

Jeff McNeil is healthy – He’s only played 1 game but with how much DL time he’s seen I’m happy to see him playing at all.

Nabil Crismatt is worried we might forget him – With all the love Corey Oswalt and Chris Flexen have gotten of late (thanks to Spring Training) Crismatt wasn’t on our minds. His debut outing, 6.0 IP, 1 hit, 0 BB, 9 Ks, was enough to remind us of his talent.

Drew Gagnon and Andrew Church solid – While not as good as the gentleman listed above them, they were both strong in their first outings for Binghamton.

The talented Binghamton bullpen – Pay attention, the Mets have stacked Tyler Bashlor, Drew Smith, Gerson Bautista and Adonis Uceta in the same squad.

A+:

Desmond Lindsay off to a solid start – He’s getting on base even if he isn’t showing much power yet.

Andres Gimenez needs to be careful – We will forgive a lot when you have a .913 OPS but his 6 Ks in 4 games isn’t pretty.

Justin Dunn, where were you hiding? – If Justin Dunn pitches this well for a few more outings, the “experts” will start doubting where they ranked the Mets minor league system. The hits aren’t great but he didn’t walk anyone and struck out 7.

Harol Gonzalez is exactly what we expect – Quality innings from Gonzalez to start the year are hardly a surprise.

A:

Blake Tiberi is a surprise early success – He cannot maintain his OPS above 1.000 but he was the Met’s 4th pick from 2016 draft and looked to be a solid hitter back then. Who knows, maybe he’ll be a 2018 breakout.

Anthony Kay… finally – His 4.0 innings weren’t spectacular but his injuries have held him from doing much more in previous seasons. So long as he goes out and pitches every fifth day this month, I’ll be satisfied.

23 comments for “Mets Minors: Dominic Smith and the importance of quick starts

  1. David Groveman
    April 9, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Since writing this Adrian Gonzalez hit a very big, key, home run for the Mets and has likely bought even more time in the majors. Still good to see Smith hitting the baseball.

  2. TexasGusCC
    April 9, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Also, since it happened last night it was not included, but Conlon was outstanding in Vegas, throwing six innings of one run and nine strikeouts and one walk. It was the blowup of the bullpen and Callahan that ruined the night.

    Crismatt and Conlon may not break many bats, but results are encouraging. Although they will never fit Alderson’s view of a starter, they both look like they are possible trade chips.

    • David Groveman
      April 9, 2018 at 9:48 am

      Yup, his outing occurred after I wrote this. You know Conlon will get much love from me.

  3. April 9, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Now that you’ve seen the full-season rosters, which placement has been the most surprising?

    • David Groveman
      April 9, 2018 at 11:45 am

      Las Vegas: Nothing super surprising. Nido belongs there but will get more innings in AA.

      Binghamton: Jhoan Urena in the outfield? Really it’s that the Mets tossed so many of their higher end relievers into one basket.

      Port St. Lucie: Where is David Peterson? Did I miss an injury?

      Columbia: Jay Jabs catching?

      • TexasGusCC
        April 9, 2018 at 3:21 pm

        Extended spring training for Peterson, supposedly some minor stiffness.

  4. Eraff
    April 9, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Combination Lightening in a Bottle and avoiding 2 Rookie hitters in one lineup…. the Mets needed to make Rosario work or not work this year. So they’ve created a scenario where everything is to protect Him.

    He was likely headed down apart from any Spring Result.

    On Wheeler— the One Walk is impressive

  5. TexasGusCC
    April 9, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    A few players that will have my attention all year due to cirmstances:
    Desmond Lindsey
    Justin Dunn
    Luis Guillorme
    Gavin Cecchini
    Marcos Molina

    Whether it’s health or performance issues, these guys need to see some success this year. I’m afraid that a bad year or unhealthy year may leave them hanging on by finger nails.

  6. Jack Strawb
    April 9, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    “Unless Dominic Smith could have obliterated the baseball to unforeseen proportions the Mets would send him to AAA Las Vegas for at least a few months. However, there was a glimmer of hope for Smith.”

    –There really wasn’t. *Take the air out of Smith’s stats* in 2016 and 2017 and he had essentially no chance of succeeding in the majors in 2018. 14 HRs in AA? For a 1Bman? Then only 16 HRs in AAA in 2017 in the best hitters parks in baseball? An unsustainable .384 BABIP? A .485 road SLG–from a 1Bman?

    That’s not a hitter who’s close to succeeding. Check back in 2020. Smith should have started this year in AA.

    I get there are fans who, when you mention facts, act like a six year old whose ice cream just fell on the sidewalk, but they need to grow up.

    Smith’s numbers are nowhere near good enough. The Mets FO rushed him because they had nothing else to offer an angry, depressed fanbase, which is lousy practice and a great way to wreck a player. Give him a chance to learn discipline and actually learn to hit. He’s still young enough to turn into a real player.

  7. Eraff
    April 9, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Strawb:

    Smith hit a HR per 20 ab’s in his 183 MLB at bats. He had an Isolating Slugging Pecentage of .198. He struck out 26% of the time—not a surprise for a Young Hitter.

    He’s 22 years old… sometimes the Power Blossoms at the MLB Level—that’s a bit of an Illusion—usually, the hyper talented lock it in and it’s there before the stats even catch up. When you’re young and talented, you “Get It”…no need to hang around and Number it Out at the MILB.

    His MLB BABIP was at .218—that’s as unsustainable as the .384. “Normalized to .300 BABIP, and you probably land at a 725-750 OPS as a starting point, showing decent power. Add some experience and reduced K’s—- maybe he’s closer to being a real player than you think.

    • Mike Walczak
      April 9, 2018 at 7:54 pm

      We won’t know unless Smith plays at the big league level. But it would be risky to have both Smith and Rosario in the lineup at the same time. Rosario can’t layoff pitches. I like the kid, but he can’t keep swing at bad pitches. If the Mets are still in the hunt at the deadline, maybe they can deal for a first baseman. Goldschmitt would look good in a Mets uniform. Wake up Mike. I said that about Gary Carter before the Mets got him.

      It’s up to Dom to tear it up at AAA.

  8. Al Matano
    April 9, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    What happened to Wuilmer Becerra and Kevin Kaczmarski?

  9. Eraff
    April 9, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    Wuilmer Becerra is Spanish for Sidd Finch

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidd_Finch

    • David Groveman
      April 10, 2018 at 8:44 am

      Eraff got jokes!

      I’ll talk about Becerra and Kaczmarski as soon as they do something of note.

      These posts come out every Monday and I focus on the good as much as I can.

  10. Eraff
    April 10, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Dave..I like the Update. Becerra was the “secret prize” at the bottom of the d’Arnaud / SynderGod Prize box…. that was the magic with him…the surprise hope.

  11. Chris F
    April 10, 2018 at 1:18 pm
    • Name
      April 10, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      Is someone hurt? Not sure who he is replacing or why.

      • Chris F
        April 10, 2018 at 2:32 pm

        I think its Sewald…just guessing

        • Chris F
          April 10, 2018 at 3:16 pm

          Nimmo optioned to minors

          • David Groveman
            April 10, 2018 at 3:21 pm

            I guess the logic is playing time but Nimmo did not deserve to go down.

            • Chris F
              April 10, 2018 at 3:28 pm

              …and the heavy use of the pen. I think they are looking to shorten the bench for now to get more arms in. Nimmo is an excellent addition to the bench, so I dont expect this to last a long time is my guess

              • Name
                April 10, 2018 at 5:13 pm

                This was a problem caused by Callaway.
                Out of 9 starts, only one time the SP has thrown more than 93 pitches. What’s the point of the long spring training if your guy doesn’t come close to 100 by his 3rd start?

                Blevins has been used for 3 straight days, but only faced 3 batters and thrown 12 pitches.

                Sewald hasn’t pitched in 9 days.

                We have deGrom today – maybe let him go 105. Then use Sewald. We have an off day Thursday too… i don’t understand why Oswalt was needed.

              • Chris F
                April 10, 2018 at 5:29 pm

                I think the story is that by the time these guys were getting pulled, they were running up counts and falling apart. Ive more than once heard that starters were losing their grip and feeling of the ball in the cold. My biggest complaint with Callaway is burning Blevins for 1 batter…with 4 innings to go, he doesn’t have the luxury of doing that IMO. Also, it was said that Callaway prefers to pull a guy while the numbers are good…before the slide…Harvey was apparently pissed the other day, that didn’t matter…out he went.

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