By Zach Gewelb
The Mets took a positive first step in their youth movement by calling up super prospect Amed Rosario after the trade deadline last week. Now, it’s time for New York to take the next step and call up first base prospect Dominic Smith.
Like Rosario, Smith, 22, has clobbered the ball in Triple-A Las Vegas. The sweet-swinging lefty owns a batting line of .330/.366/.434 with 16 home runs and 74 RBI this season. Granted, the Mets’ Triple-A squad plays in the Pacific Coast League, which is notorious for being a hitter’s paradise. Still, Smith’s success is real.
Taken in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft, Smith has always been a bat-first kind of player. And he has hit at every level he has played, so far. In 537 minor league games, Smith has a .302 average and a stellar .366 on-base percentage, with 40 home runs and 315 RBI. There’s no reason to think that he won’t continue to hit at the big league level, yet general manager Sandy Alderson is hesitant to give Smith his chance.
“Well, Dom we want to make sure — as with Amed — when he comes here he’ll get the bulk of the playing time,” Alderson told reporters last weekend. “I expect that would be in the near future, but I can’t give you a specific time frame. I have said that we prefer to see him earlier than Sept. 1 — and I think we will. But other than that, I can’t be more specific.”
So Alderson and the Mets will keep Smith buried in the minors, despite not having a true first baseman on the Major League roster. Since trading away Lucas Duda ahead of the trade deadline, the Mets have played Jay Bruce, Wilmer Flores and others at first base. Smith is a true first baseman who would allow the Mets to play guys like Bruce and Flores at their natural positions.
But Alderson said the roster is too clogged at the moment to accommodate consistent at-bats for Smith. That could change soon, however, as the Mets have a handful of players who should clear waivers and be available in a trade sometime this month.
The Mets could move guys like Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis Granderson and Bruce. Moving any of those guys would create an opening for Smith and Alderson hinted at a potential move may happen soon.
“Well, at some point we’ll just do it,” Alderson said. “There are player transactions that do take place in August. Often, though, that doesn’t take place until the end of August. But if necessary, we’ll just make the playing time available.”
Things would be different if the Mets were in a pennant race. But with the team more than 10 games under .500 and well out of the playoff race, what do the Mets have to lose?
There is little benefit to keeping Smith in the minors. He is ready to contribute at the big league level and New York would be foolish to keep him in Triple-A for too much longer.
The Mets made room for Rosario. Now, it’s time to give Smith a chance to shine in Flushing.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe