It was 22 years ago today that Dominic Smith, (currently hitting .318 in AAA despite being four years younger than league average) was born.
Smith was a graduate from Junipero Serra High School a few miles west of Compton, in Gardena California when he was selected by the Mets with the eleventh overall selection of the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft. At the time, many Mets fans (and Metsmerizedonline commenters) were anxious to have the Mets sign free agent outfielder Michael Bourn, but would have forfeited their first round pick.
The Mets decided instead to plan for the future, drafting the lefty hitting, lefty throwing first baseman/outfielder who had led the Cavaliers to the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section division championship as a senior. Smith had committed to attend the University of Southern California (USC), where he would have played college ball for the Trojans, but was lured away by an above-slot contract of $2.6 million offered by the Mets.
As a youngster, Smith participated in Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) in little league, and benefited by playing at Major League Baseball’s Compton, Calif., baseball academy, situated in one of Los Angeles’ grittier neighborhoods. In the past, Compton was rife with crime, gang violence and drugs, famously captured in the lyrics of the gangsta rap group N.W.A’s songs.
MLB vice president of Youth & Facility Development Darrell Miller remembers that the Compton Facility was Smith’s “home away from home”. As explained by Miller, a former utility player for five seasons with the Angels, “What the academy does – you can be 5, 6, 7 years old and you can start coming here. I think Dominic was 9. He was playing Little League at the time. He would come to summer camps that we had. He was one of those guys that was a baseball junkie.”
While practicing at the facility, Smith played in the RBI World Series in 2009 and 2010, winning the junior division championship in 2009.
“He loved it. There are baseball opportunities for all ages. It’s for kids that really want to play, and we give them many opportunities from a competition perspective. Dominic competed against the Japanese All-Star team. He competed against some of the best in the world.”
Now competing in Las Vegas, it will not be too long until Mets fans can see the Dominic Smith competing for the Mets at CitiField.
Until then, follow the young first baseman on Twitter @TheRealSmith22