Mets Minors: Dominic Smith’s outlook only gets worse

Back in 2013 the Mets selected Dominic Smith with their 11th overall pick. A pick that meant the Mets could not sign a Top-tier Free Agent. A pick that meant the Mets were spared the dive bomb decline of Michael Bourn, who had been coming off the best year of his career. The same draft where the Cubs got Kris Bryant, the Phillies nabbed J.P. Crawford and the Yankees lucked out into Aaron Judge.

Few people questioned their pick. The Mets looked for the player they saw as having the most advanced hitting tools in the entire draft class. Despite his lack of size (for the position) and the fact his power metrics were in question. Baseball pundits liked Smith. Consider this piece of scouting from MLB.com:

The bat is what really stands out for this Southern California high school first baseman. With a terrific approach at the plate and a loose swing, he gets advanced marks for his hittability. Right now, Smith is more of a hit machine, an RBI type, than one who will wow you with his power. There is some pop there, and how high he goes on Draft day may depend on just how much power a team thinks he’ll have in the future. He’s a very solid defender at first, though it’s the fact that some see him as the best pure high school hitter in the class that will get him drafted in the early stages of the Draft.

This same player came to the Mets and earned his way onto the Savannah (SAL) team at the age of 19, the same player who went to the Arizona Fall League in 2015 and put on an absolute show and who, in 2016, seemed on the verge of greatness as his power finally emerged in AA.

Two more years and two partial seasons in the majors later and Met fans have moved on. There is a new name on their lips when they think of First Base and most people wonder when the Mets will package Smith off as a bargain bin add-on in yet another fire sale deal. How many people have penciled in Smith as the starting First Baseman in 2019? Surely that number is a great deal lower than those who nod to Jay Bruce, Wilmer Flores or Peter Alonso.

Why have we given up on a player who is not yet 24 years old? There are three answers:

1. His prospect status has been eclipsed
2. He failed to do and say the right things
3. He played in New York

Papa Can You Hear Me?

If you look at Smith through the lens of Alonso you can hardly see Smith at all. What is it that Smith does better? Smith, who is half a year younger than his competition, has (if only in the past) hit for a higher average. Alonso boasts a far higher slugging percentage and on base percentage and it isn’t just homers. The only thing that Smith hopes to hang his hat on is defense and his gaffes in 2017 and 2018 make that metric almost laughable.

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em

A prospect, especially a First Rounder, has to have a little swagger. They have to exude the confidence that makes fans feel they are sure to do great things for their franchise in the future. Smith, sadly, hasn’t managed that well. He’s shown up overweight and out of shape, he’s talked about his All Star future and he’s had to face team discipline for being late to a meeting. It might already be too late for Smith to turn the media story around and become the kid who is gonna work as hard as he can to succeed. It’s too late for a lot of things.

It’s a Hell of a Town

We in the Tri-State area do not refer to New York as “New York City”. New York is simply “The City”. We are downright snotty about it and make much of the country dislike us because of it. To us, New York is obviously the center of the Universe, “The Greatest City on Earth” and we do not accept even the appearance of failure. Players in St. Louis, Cleveland, San Diego and Houston are allowed to struggle. They are allowed to make their mistakes and move on. New Yorkers, and those living close enough to think of themselves similarly, have long and often very unforgiving memories. Do we remember Carlos Beltran’s six and a half years of being the star of the franchise, or do we remember that one playoff at bat?

In the end, I don’t think we’ll be seeing too many Smith jerseys around Citi Field in the future and it becomes more and more likely that the Mets send him on his way as soon as they find a taker. I was a Smith fan, once upon a time, but that time is over and I’m sad it’s come to this.

P.S.

I’m not sorry about the Musical Theatre references.

16 comments for “Mets Minors: Dominic Smith’s outlook only gets worse

  1. Metsense
    September 17, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    A scathing article about Smith but it was deserved. I don’t think Smith prepares for the games.
    That said, I think Smith will be on the roster and in the mix at first base when the camp breaks in 2019. In the Mets last 30 games Smith has played 15 of them and he is the third best met with a 897 Ops. The front office has pushed him to be playing and unless he falls on his face spring training then he will get another opportunity. Smith is actually competing with Lagares for a spot in the batting order. Bruce will be a first baseman or an outfielder. Smith or Lagares will determine where Bruce plays before Cespedes comes back. Smith or Lagares will still get enough at-bats because unlike TC, Callaway rests his players. Personally I hope Alfonso rips the baseball in the spring and makes the team and at least platoons as the right handed first baseman.

  2. TexasGusCC
    September 17, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    David, you are a kind person. To avoid the reality of what the problem is with Dom, you gave us everything else and avoided the obvious: he is overwhelmed by MLB. Even when we saw Rosario stumble early on, he didn’t have the look of a bewildered and overwhelmed youngster. And I’m not talking about the hitting. Smith’s forte was supposed to be defense, but even in Boston he made two errors in the early part of the game and the mental errors have been many.

    On Fangraphs’ prospect rankings, Gimenez slots in at #30 in MLB. Alonzo is #67 but as very few in the high minors can match his production, I’m expecting him to jump into the top 30 by January; higher than Gimenez.

    https://www.fangraphs.com/scoutboard.aspx

  3. Mike Walczak
    September 17, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    You can see it in players facial expressions. Jeff McNeil is a man on a mission. He is completely focused, aggressive and driven.

    Dom Smith on the other hand looks aloof and disinterested.

    So, the question is, how much rope does he get? Looks like 15 more games and spring training next year because Alonso will be battling as well as hopefully a healthy Jay Bruce.

    • Chris F
      September 17, 2018 at 11:03 pm

      I think we need to be careful about “look” beciase peoples expressions dont always indicate whats going on in reality. I look more toward Dom’s actions. As a young professional athlete, he has a pear-shaped spread like he’s a coach. On the even of his first (right?) start as a pro, he overslept…overslept???? How on earth did he sleep at all? Surely if thats a personal thing you have a half dozen friends call you or crash with you. Its inexcuseable. I dont like the body language while playing either, but tht may be over doing it. In any event, I see a guy who mostly is very immature.

      • TexasGusCC
        September 17, 2018 at 11:57 pm

        “In any event, I see a guy who mostly is very immature.”.
        ^+1

        • Metsense
          September 18, 2018 at 8:23 am

          ^+2 I read an article when he was in Savannah that his aunt had to live with him because he couldn’t live alone. He also was eating incorrectly. Smith will probably be late bloomer but by that time Alfonso will be leading the national league in homeruns. Smith doesn’t impress me.

  4. Eraff
    September 17, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    JP Crawford?…. he’s pretty much in free fall himself—656 ops as a 23 year old “top Propect” at AAA

    As for Smith—signing him cost us an opportunity to sign a top tier FA…???? —what does that Mean???? I don’t understand.

    I’m guessing they will hold Smith. He’s still just 23.

    • MattyMets
      September 17, 2018 at 8:11 pm

      Eraff, the Smith draft pick didn’t directly cost us a free agent. But by having the 11th pick instead of the 10th (courtesy of a coin flip with the Marlins, I think) it was not protected from free agent signing compensation. The rumor was that we would have signed Michale Bourn if we’d won the coin flip. Bourn, like many speedy CFs seemed to break down around 32 after signing his first big contract (Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gomez, Grady Sizemore, Jacoby Ellsbury). Lorenzo Cain looks like a smart signing now after year one but check back in 3 years. Also a cautionary tale for signing AJ Pollock.

  5. Eraff
    September 18, 2018 at 7:09 am

    Smith has worked very hard to get his body in shape—that’s a gigantic indicator of his attention and focus. I’d find a different Horse to Whip…top picks that fail are a measurement of the Adults in the Baseball Business.

  6. TexasGusCC
    September 19, 2018 at 1:42 am

    Daaaaavid, I have some gooood news:

    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/09/top-minor-league-performers-in-2018.html

    ———————————————————————————————-
    From earlier this summer when we weren’t looking:

    https://www.fangraphs.com/scoutboard.aspx

    ———————————————————————————————-

    I said that I’m expecting Alonso top 30, maybe top 20 if his defense impresses in Arizona in two months. I may start to get a little greedier.

    • September 19, 2018 at 11:58 am

      Nice find!

      • TexasGusCC
        September 19, 2018 at 1:40 pm

        Thank you. As you were the one that was raving about Alonso from the beginning, I knew this was a recognition you’d be impressed with.

  7. September 20, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Gus shared this with me from Keith Law’s chat:

    Jordan: Where would you rank the Mets farm system going into next season? Mid-tier? Seems like almost all their top-20 guys had terrific seasons.

    Keith Law: Above the median. Good chance they’ll be top ten. Most of their big names had great years, they landed a stud in Kelenic, their second-rounder Woods-Richardson looked better in pro ball than in the spring, and they had some pop-up guys like Newton establish themselves as prospects too. I get Mets fans on Twitter telling me how bad they think the farm is, but they’re totally wrong. They’ve drafted well, consistently, and hit on some international guys too.

    http://meadowparty.com/blog/2018/09/20/klawchat-9-20-18/

    • Chris F
      September 20, 2018 at 9:24 pm

      Other Mets info from KLAW:

      JR: Did you consider Nimmo for players you were wrong about? IIRC, the past few years you’ve projected him as a fourth/fifth OF – do you still view him as such, or can he be an everyday guy?
      Keith Law: My criticism of him has always been that he doesn’t produce vs LHP, and that is still true. He was a top 100 guy at least once for me.

      JR: You’ve regularly been asked about Jeff McNeil over the past few weeks, and have always rightly cautioned this is SSS. Having said that, how does an organization evaluate his time at the big leagues to date? They clearly have an opening at 2B and he’s played well (in a short time frame). Do they pencil him in for the role next season, or do they still look to add a 2B in the offseason?
      Keith Law: No harm in letting a player like that – already on the roster, making no money – fill that spot next year when you’re unlikely to contend. If they were a potential playoff team, my answer would differ. At that point you don’t want to bet on a tiny sample or a fluky performance.

      JR: As a Mets fan, I know the smart play is to shop deGrom, Thor and/or Wheeler this offseason, but man, aren’t those the types of starters to build around? Sucks to be a small market team in a big market.
      Keith Law: You shop them all and see what you get; I doubt the market will offer huge returns for all three.

      • Metsense
        September 21, 2018 at 8:14 am

        Well Chris, I see where you get your information or did Keith Law give you a call before this interview?
        I respect your opinion and Keith Law’s opinion but I don’t agree with you. The experts said deGrom couldn’t repeat his rookie year and they were wrong. I have gut feelings over certain players that are more about their makeup above their ability. So when it comes to McNeil and Nimmo all I can say is we’ll see. Peace and we can argue in the chatters

        • Chris F
          September 21, 2018 at 9:11 am

          I am not expressing my opinion at all here, and I dont follow klaw at all.

          I was just showing the other bits of what he said for more perspective, and not just cherry picking the thing that makes the Mets pipeline seem better than it might be, which is what the first post indicates. I think a lot of people would call him wrong on Nimmo, wrong on McNeil, and wrong on deGrom value…so why on Earth would he be right about the whole system?

          Im just sayin….

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