In the wake of the Mets trading first baseman Lucas Duda, the team will not promote their No. 2 prospect, Dominic Smith, on Friday night when the team opens a weekend series against the Mariners in Seattle, SNY contributor Adam Rubin said on Twitter.
Smith, who is hitting .337/.390/.524 with 15 home runs and 68 RBI in 102 games with Triple-A Las Vegas, is considered the organization's No. 2 prospect according to MLB.com and Baseball America, and the second-best first base prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com.
"Smith continues to show outstanding defensive ability at first, with very good footwork and excellent hands," MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo wrote this past winter. "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."
After Duda was traded to the Rays on Thursday, speculation began arising that Smith would soon join the Mets and become the team's starting first baseman. However, manager Terry Collins said Jay Bruce, Wilmer Flores, and T.J. Rivera will split time at first base in the interim.
A Triple-A scout described Smith as someone with very strong fundamental tools with the potential to evolve into a star.
"He will be a rock at first base, and should be an All Star," the scout told me. "He doesn't have a lot of range, because of his size. But when it's hit or thrown near him, he's got it, 100 percent. It's similar for him at the plate. He's got a big-league eye and a natural feel for hitting the other way. He's smooth on both sides of the ball."
The difference-maker, according to this one scout, will be how Smith handles off-speed pitches and understands how to use his power against big-league pitching.
"He's got a terrific attitude, he's full of confidence, but also even keel. And, he has always risen to the level of his competition," the scout said. "If he can match that level mindset to his power, if he can understand that he isn't a 'power guy,' and keep from getting home run happy because he thinks that's what he should be, he can become an All Star and very popular player in New York."
In addition to finally getting to see Smith as a player, it's exciting for the team's current and future infielders. I remember in 2005 when the Mets went from Todd Zeile and Mike Piazza to Doug Mientkiewicz at first base and the positive impact it had on the young Jose Reyes and David Wright. In particular, Wright's throwing -- which was never a strength -- went from a liability in 2004 to a non-issue in 2005 entirely because Mientkiewicz snagged everything within a 10-foot radius of first base.
I remember Wright once telling me that it took pressure off him knowing he could take the extra step, set a more sound grip or even fire an off-balance throw because he knew Mientkiewicz was capable of making up for it on the other end.
In going from Duda to Smith, the Mets may see a similar benefit, especially on balls hit to first that have the opportunity to be turned in to double plays.
"I was so impressed with how [Smith] plays first base,'' Reyes told the New York Post's Kevin Kernan. "He's a real good hitter, too, but he is so impressive with the glove. He is going to take care of business. Everything looks so smooth and easy for him."
Dominic Smith and Darryl Strawberry at the June, 2013 draft, courtesy of @MLB on Twitter.
"When you have a first baseman like that, who is like a Gold Glove first baseman, you say, 'Just catch the ball and throw it,'" Reyes added. "No matter where you throw it, he is going to pick it up. You don't have to worry about anything."
As a fan of slick, smooth fielding, as someone who adored watching Keith Hernandez, Kevin Elster, John Olerud, Edgardo Alfonzo, and so on, I'm thrilled to finally get a chance to see a potential Gold Glove winner rejoin the infield. It's been so long.
It's also worth noting that Smith's current shortstop, Amed Rosario, who is considered the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball, is also considered a potential Gold Glove winner. Rosario is expected to be called up around the same time as Smith. I.e., in these two rookies, the Mets may finally have a sound infield defense, which has to be music to the ears of the team's pitching staff.
Earlier this year, SNY's Joe Kraus talked with Smith, who was drafted in the first round by the Mets during the 2013 MLB Draft. To listen to the conversation, download it here, or click play below...