Dominic Smith Scouting Report (2014)
Dominic Smith or Jonathan Singleton? Who’s the best first base prospect in baseball? This was a frequent question over the winter as prospect followers sized up New York’s first round pick. Drafted 11th overall, Smith skipped Brooklyn and headed to full season Savannah — a positive sign considering former Mets first rounders Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini spent two summers in short season before reaching the South Atlantic League. An early visit to Rome allowed for an early season scouting report on the left-handed hitter. Is Dominic Smith the future face of the Franchise?
At first glance, Smith appears 30-pounds heavier than his listed weight of 185 pounds. At six feet tall, the added size resembles the aforementioned Singleton more than the well-proportioned athlete from Smith’s pre-draft videos. It’s a body the Mets will need to monitor closely — especially in season when players gravitate towards $3.99 Steak ‘n Shake meals over Subway combos which can cost twice as much. On a positive note, Smith’s wide shoulders and hips help his power projection. Plus, he presented as athletic given his present body type.
On offense, Smith struggled to make solid contact, repeatedly beating balls into the ground. This was due to his being out front on pitches at the point of contact. Rome recognized this and chose to intentionally walk Stefan Sabol at one point to set up a left/left match up between Dominic Smith and Brady Feigl. Then, the Braves replaced Feigl with a right-handed pitcher. Admittedly, it’s difficult to relate the situation to MLB and label it a a sign of disrespect, but the scenario is one rarely seen at the minor league level.
A more concerning revelation was Smith’s inability to generate lift. In batting practice, he hit a home run to right-center field on a letter high pitch, but showed little else in the two day sample. Letting the ball travel a fraction of a second longer will help, but mechanical tweaks are also needed for Dominic Smith to tap into his power more frequently.
First and foremost, Smith has a tendency to fly open with his front foot. When this happens, he spins off the baseball instead of driving through. Combine this with a flat plane swing and it appears as if Smith is selling out for power, while generating none. Staying inside the baseball will help with bat drag and swing length. If Smith perceives this as an issue, it would explain his being out front so often. Many hitters at the level hone in on fastballs and cheat a bit.
His timing mechanism and is also loose. the extra hand and wrist movement will only throw off Smith’s timing against more advanced pitching. At the same point in development, Jonathan Singleton was much further along.
A bright spot was Smith’s batting eye. He worked deep counts and was rarely fooled. A couple of breaking pitches resulted in flailing swings and misses, typical of young hitters in full season baseball. As Dominic Smith continues to tighten up the zone, walk totals will increase and present contact skills will result in better barrel contact.
On defense, Smith has a strong throwing arm and flashed enough agility to profile as a solid average defender. During pre-game infield practice, he charged a ball, barehanded it and made a strong throw to third base for a strike. It was more than expected given he walked through batting practice infield drills. In game action, he wasn’t tested in an initial look and was the designated hitter in game two.
With Dominic Smith hitting a number of ground balls, home-to-first run times were plentiful, although he often pulled up before reaching the base. Run times were in the 4.4-4.5 range, leaving him a 30-runner on the 20/80 scale, or well below average. In time, his speed will degrade further given his size and body type.
April looks are difficult to judge a prospect by, but Smith appeared to do everything at 3/4 speed. This presented as lackadaisical from pre-game agility drills to in game action. Having scouted Savannah prospects for the past six seasons, Wilmer Flores and Brandon Nimmo were better prospects at the same level. Entering the weekend, Smith was expected to become the best Mets prospect scouted at the level. He fell short.
Projected Role Starting first baseman on second division team Hitting Ability 35 50 Power 30 50 Speed 30 30 Fielding Ability 40 50 Arm 50 60
Owning Dominic Smith
In Reality Fantasy Baseball, Team ROTOscouting selected Mariners D.J. Peterson with our first pick in the draft over Dominic Smith. I regretted the decision until the in person look. After scouting Smith, I’d be inclined to sell while his value is still high. It would not surprise me if the first base prospect is demoted to short season come summer, causing Smith to lose helium earned as a first round pick who excelled in short season.
15 Apr 2014 / Mike Newman / 2
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