After two consecutive reaches in the first round, the Mets went bold with this year’s first-round pick Dominic Smith from Serra High School in California. Smith, 18, has a very high upside, and is regarded by many experts as the top hitter in the draft. With a solid glove, a great hit tool, and the possibility of
Thanks to the new slotting system, Smith signed early, much like Gavin Cecchini did last year, allowing him to get some significant experience in his first year in the organization. And unlike the current regime’s two previous first-round picks, Smith is thriving in his first taste of professional baseball.
This year, Smith is hitting .280/.380/.400 in 44 games with the GCL team. Along with the impressive slash line, Smith has three home runs and nine doubles.
After a tough adjustment period over the first few weeks of the season, Smith has caught fire, posting a .337/.440/.463 slash line with two of his home runs and six doubles in 28 games. For someone who is projected to be a future slugger, three home runs and a .400 slugging percentage don’t seem great, but power is often the last trait to develop.
The GCL leader in home runs has only six and only six players are slugging over .470 (with half of them being too old for the league), so expecting power at this stage is asking for quite a lot, especially when you’re expecting it from an 18 year-old in his first year of professional ball. Here’s a look at some other notable first basemen performed were in Smith’s situation.
A very promising sign, which was also present with Encarnacion and Gonzalez, has been Smith’s ability to draw walks. He currently has a walk rate just over 13%, which is quite impressive for such a young hitter. He’s got a knack getting on base, which is always a good sign for the type of player Smith is projected to be. This may be a sign of improvement for Smith (although it is a small sample size), who was overeager at times. Alex Nelson of Amazin’ Avenue touched on this immediately after Smith was drafted:
Another issue is he just needs a little more refinement in his approach. Some scouts complain that Smith can get overeager, swinging at breaking balls out of the zone that smart hitters learn to ignore. Like I said, he’s young and shows a mental aptitude for hitting, so I’d wager that he eventually refines the approach, which already exceeds most kids’ at the same age. Pitch recognition takes time for all hitters, and Smith is young.
Pitch recognition is certainly one of the core skills you work on, especially at the lower level, and it’s likely the Mets have been working heavily on this with Smith. Whether this is just a result of a small sample size and some sub-par pitching or real improvement remains to be seen. However, the walks are a good sign that Smith is seeing and recognizing pitches out of the zone.
The GCL Mets have six games remaining on their schedule. After those are completed, look for Smith to jump to either Kingsport or Brooklyn to get some postseason experience.