BA tabs Dominic Smith fourth-best prospect in GCL in '13

18-year-old Dominic Browth batted .287 in 48 games for the K-Mets in 2013. - (Photo credit: Bryan Green)

Prospect ranking season has begun!

Baseball America has begun their annual league rankings series with the 2013 Gulf Coast League top prospects list -- and Mets 2013 first round draft pick Dominic Smith has made the cut.

Specifically, BA’s Ben Badler has released his Gulf Coast League top 20, placing the Mets newest young bonus baby in the no. four position. Here are some of his thoughts on the talented young first baseman:

"Smith earned rave reviews from scouts for his hitting and defense coming out of high school in Southern California. The Mets drafted him this year with the 11th overall pick and signed him for $2.6 million. After struggling the first few weeks of the season, Smith adjusted and hit .372 in August.

With a sweet lefthanded swing, good bat speed, hand-eye coordination and pitch recognition, Smith has the potential to be a plus hitter and get on base at a high clip…He hit just three home runs in the GCL, but he has sock to the middle of the field and to his pull side, with above-average future power potential.

A below-average runner, Smith has Gold Glove potential at first base. He’s excellent around the bag with quick feet, soft hands, good instincts and a strong arm for a first baseman. He’s still learning to get into a more athletic position to receive throws, but that’s correctable."

The 18-year-old Smith posted a very strong .287/.384/.407 line and three home runs in his professional debut with the GCL Mets, not to mention a stellar 12% walk rate to go along with a very manageable 18% strikeout rate. Further, in eight plate appearances for the Kingsport Mets to cap his season Smith had four more hits and a pair of walks. In terms of 2014, it's fair to assume that Smith will likely be assigned to Brooklyn -- though some suggest he has the offensive polish to cut it in Savannah.

To put Smith’s ranking in more of a historical perspective, this is the first time a Mets player has ranked within the top five in the GCL since 2008, when Jefry Marte was ranked third. In fact, here’s what the Mets presence on this particular league's ranking has looked like over the past ten years:

Year Player Rank
2013 1B Dominic Smith
4
2011 RHP Rafael Montero
20
2010 LHP Juan Urbina
6
2008 3B Jefry Marte
3
2008
OF Cesar Puello
12
2007 RHP Scott Moviel
14
2005
SS Emmanuel Garcia
20
2004
RHP Gaby Hernandez
2
2004
OF Carlos Gomez
18

Obviously, this is a bit of a cautionary tale about tempering our enthusiasm over guys so far from the majors. However, this ranking -- as well as Badler's commentary -- further validates what Mets fans came to understand about Smith following the draft:

He is a potential impact talent with the ability to not only hit in the middle of the order, but also provide some value with the glove -- exactly what you hope to obtain with a first-round draft pick.

UPDATE

Badler held a subsequent GCL Top 20 chat over at BA; a few Mets questions ensued:

Izzy Hechkoff (New York): What are the future grades on [Dominic] Smith's Hit and Power tools?

Ben Badler: Could be plus bat, plus power. Throw in plus defense at first base too and you have a potential all-star and about as well-rounded of a player as you'll find out of a first baseman.

Izzy (New York): Did any other Mets merit consideration? Anything of note on Andrew Church, Casey Meisner, Ivan Wilson, Wuilmer Becerra, and Vicente Lupo?

Ben Badler: Jhoan Urena is a guy to keep an eye on. Switch-hitter who can drive the ball from both sides even if the power didn't show up in games this year, but he's made a lot of strides with his pitch recognition and hitting approach and the raw power is definitely in there. He's a big-bodied guy so he's going to have to work to stay at third base, but the bat potential there is very intriguing.

Alex M (NJ): Did Wuilmer Becerra recieve [sic] any consideration for the list?

Ben Badler: Worth keeping an eye on, but wasn't really close for this list. It's hard to know how much the injury last year set him back or might still be affecting him, but in terms of evaluating what we can see, there was a lot of swing and miss and the tools aren't quite as explosive as they were when he signed.

John (Chicago): I know we're focusing on the top talent, but I am curious about one of the bigger disappointments. Any thoughts on Vicente Lupo's struggles?

Ben Badler: He's more of a power-first guy over a pure hitter, so he's someone who could face some streakiness as he climbs the ladder. He sprained his left wrist though trying to make a diving catch in the outfield, so it was an abbreviated year for him.

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