The View From Behind the Backstop: Dominic Smith

Chris McShane

The Mets 2013 first round pick was given an aggressive assignment to the South Atlantic League. Let's check in on how the eighteen-year old is handling full-season ball.

Dominic Smith

1B, Savannah Sand Gnats (A)

6', 185

Age (2014 season age): 19

Acquired: 1st round, 2013

Date(s) seen: 4/26/14-4/27/14 @ Lakewood Blue Claws: 3-6, 2 2B, R, BB

2014 so far: 168 PA, .265/.333/.298, 23 K / 16 BB

The short of it: You shouldn't worry too much about an 18-year-old's full-season ball struggles, but it's tough to project an impact bat here at the moment.

The long of it: The Mets finally started one of their first-round prep picks in full season ball! Oh, the early returns aren't good, you say? Smith has added weight since his pro debut, and is probably a tick over 200 now. He's thick through the midsection and thighs, and the body is likely going to be a fight as he ages. Good first base defense was supposed to be part of the package, and yes it's first base, but his lateral mobility isn't great. Wasn't really tested and only saw one game in the field, so not confident throwing a grade on his defense or anything. Well-below-average runner now, but of course he wasn't drafted for speed.

At the plate, Smith did not look good.  He utilizes an open stance and steps in towards the pitch with a leg kick for timing and a short stride, but his timing comes and goes. He will drop his back elbow and lunge at balls, instead of staying back and trusting the swing. Smith has some real bat-to-ball ability, but he is sacrificing any sort of power for (often bad) contact. Good command of the strike zone, but tries too hard not to strike out and ends up rolling over on stuff or weakly poking it the other way. Swing can get long when he does stay back and was late on fringy velocity, especially away.  Looked more comfortable in BP, and swing looks pretty when he's comfortable, but hasn't been able to bring it into games yet. When he is going well, bat speed is fine, but not special. Strong kid that can pull the ball out, but I don't really see a plus power projection.  Would occasionally show you something in-game that reminded you he was first round pick, but he's a long ways away from the impact offensive profile you need at first base.

The optimistic projection: Everyday first baseman who hits enough and draws enough walks to make up for fringe-average power.

The pessimistic projection: He's a first baseman; you don't hit, you don't play. Smith will get every opportunity as a first round pick, but there's not a major league floor here or anything.

What to look for during the rest of the 2014 season: Savannah is a brutal park for left-handed power as I think we're all aware, but you'd like to see Smith at least start to drive the ball more into the large gaps at Grayson.

 

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