Mets' No. 2 prospect lost 24 pounds, is off to best start of career
By William Boor
LAS VEGAS -- Another year older and another year wiser. As the saying goes, so too does Dominic Smith.
The Mets' No. 2 prospect, No. 57 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100, has always hit. Smith has batted above .300 in three of the four seasons since he was selected No. 11 overall in 2013. However, entering the 2017 season, Smith's first with Triple-A Las Vegas, he turned the intensity up a notch.
"It's a learning process over times and he definitely made some adjustments," Mets Minor League Field coordinator Kevin Morgan said. "He worked in certain areas and he continues to make a commitment to his trade. Obviously he lost the weight and he adjusted some of his off-season plans and it showed."
Smith dropped 24 pounds over the offseason, swapping out burritos for broccoli and chicken, and fast food for home cooked meals.
So far, the results speak for themselves.
Smith is putting together the best April of his career, slashing .341/.383/.500, significantly better than last year's .272/.322/.432.
"Definitely," Smith said when asked if he believes his improved fitness has contributed to his hot start. "This year I'm trying to refine my approach a little bit more, being patient and my teammates are putting me in position to do well."
Smith did acknowledge that Las Vegas, and the Pacific Coast League in general, is a hitter-friendly enviornment, but he still believes his improved conditioning is paying dividends.
His manger feels it's a bit more than that and that the 21-year-old is learning the ins and outs of what it takes to truly be a professional.
"He's a little more mature," Lopez, who also managed Smith in Double-A Binghamton last season, said. "He's understanding what it takes to go out there on a daily basis and perform. We've just got to keep him going in the right direction, keep his head grounded and let him go out and perform."
Smith's development is about more than just his diet and maturity. He's also continuing to tap into his power potential, something scouts have been looking for since he was drafted.
The first baseman hit a career-high 14 homers in 130 games last season and slugged .539 and .534 in July and August -- the highest two months of any during his career.
"I think historically with players, as they mature physically, as they progress with experience, then you start to see more power numbers," Morgan said. "It's more about consistent approach and everything else takes care of itself."
That approach is particularly important in the PCL, where a hitter could easily get caught up in the gusting winds and try to drive the ball out of the park every night.
In order to avoid that type of mindset, Smith has kept his focus on "continuously making solid contact, hitting the ball hard, avoid swinging at bad pitches and controlling the strike zone."
Smith has played in just 22 games at the Triple-A level, so he still needs some time to develop, but the early results have been more than promising. MLB Pipeline expects Smith to debut at some point in 2017, although the exact timeline is tough to predict.
"[He just needs] to continue to execute plans, continue working offensively and defensively," Morgan said. "The rest of it is out of his control, it's just circumstance, can't really put a specific timeframe on it."
William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.