First baseman Dominic Smith has a habit of improving with each promotion, so his sizzling start at Triple-A Las Vegas could hardly be characterized as a surprise.
The 21-year-old hit .337/.382/.484 with two home runs, six doubles and 15 RBIs in 24 April games. Smith hit so well that Mets fans had begun clamoring for his callup to potentially bolster the big league lineup.
But team officials expect Smith, the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft, to play a full season at Las Vegas. The Mets have a glut of options at first base with Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, T.J. Rivera and Jay Bruce.
“I think Dom is going to be a good player,” said Mets manager Terry Collins, who has watched Smith in spring training the last two years. “He’s got real good hands at first base, which everybody told me he’s an outstanding defender—and we saw that.”
Smith, who graduated from Serra High in Gardena, Calif., lost 24 pounds in the offseason, dramatically altering a diet that previously consisted heavily of fast food.
Even before shedding the weight, Smith had never displayed big power. He hit a career-high 14 homers last year in 130 games at Double-A Binghamton, where he received the organization’s player-of-the-year award for that affiliate.
But the Mets is not concerned about Smith’s limited power output, believing it will develop as he matures physically. Organization officials envision him as somebody who may eventually hit 20 homers in a season with a batting average consistently in the neighborhood of .300. He hit a cumulative .303 at high Class A St. Lucie and Binghamton the past two seasons.
“I still think Dom is one of those kind of guys who will develop power even though he hasn’t necessarily shown it yet in the minor leagues,” Collins said.
“He’s an intelligent hitter who will learn how to get some balls in the air, but I am really excited he is off to such a good start in Vegas, because I think that is important. The (Pacific) Coast League is a little different from the Eastern League, so I am glad the numbers are up.”
— Mike Puma covers the Mets for the New York Post