Mets 1B prospect Dominic Smith is MLB's third-best first base prospect, according to a list published Wednesday by MLB.com.
"Smith continues to have a very advanced approach at the plate with outstanding bat-to-ball skills, leading to the consistent batting average, good walk and low strikeout rates," MLB.com wrote in their scouting report of Smith. "Smith continues to show outstanding defensive ability at first, with very good footwork and excellent hands. With his run-producing ability showing up more consistently, he is looking more and more like the everyday first baseman the Mets saw when they drafted him."
Smith hit more home runs last season (14) than he hit during his first two and a half years with the organization (13).
"The power was the one thing I really wanted to showcase," Smith told MiLB.com's Michael Avallone about his production last season. "It really took me until this past year to get my swing in tune with my body and learn how to be a solid run producer. ... I'm looking to drive the ball with authority in certain situations as opposed to just getting a hit."
In 130 games with Double-A Binghamton in 2016, Smith hit .302 with a .367 OBP, 29 doubles, 91 RBI and a 457 slugging percentage in 484 at bats.
Smith, 21, was recently named the organization's second-best prospect, according to the Top 10 list by Baseball America. He will also be among 13 minor leaguers invited to this year's big league Spring Training, the team announced in early January.
"There's a lot of pressure on all of us. Anyone that says otherwise is lying," Smith told Avallone about being a top prospect in New York.
"As for the New York aspect, it's hard to escape it," he added. "It's the biggest media market with the best fans. They'll love you if you play well and win, and that's what I plan on doing. We have a lot of guys up there right now who know how to win."
I can't get a good read on how the organization feels about Smith. I leave some conversations believing they see him as their future first baseman, but there are also times I think otherwise.
The fact is, last year was always going to be an important season for Smith, regardless of Lucas Duda's missing a ton of time with a neck injury. The goal for the Mets last year was to challenge Smith in the field and at the plate. The game is very natural to him, he has a terrific baseball IQ and very refined skills, experts say, and playing in St. Lucie and Savannah against weak competition the previous two years was doing him a disservice, even though that is where he technically should have been through that point in his career.
Again, he's still just 21 years old, so he has time to further develop. But, he's clearly being watched for more than his slick fielding, especially as Sandy Alderson and his staff begin thinking about their long-term plan at first base...