It's a bit ironic that both Dominic Smith of the Mets and Blue Jays first-base prospect Rowdy Tellez are playing for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. Both men are very capable hitters and highly regarded first-base prospects in their respective organization. They share playing time in Arizona, and both are getting rave reviews from scouts.
Smith, like Tellez, is a left-handed hitter. He committed to attend the University of Southern California, but when the Mets selected him in the first round of the 2013 Draft, he decided to sign a professional contract. Signing directly out of Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., Smith has completed parts of three seasons in the Mets organization.
Smith played in the outfield and pitched, as well as playing first base in high school, but the Mets have played him exclusively at first base.
Smith makes the most out of his 6-foot, 185-pound frame. He has very quick hands through the ball and has a simple, fluid swing that he consistently repeats. In fact, Smith's swing permits him to make barrel-of-the-bat contact. He keeps his head steady and allows his wrists, forearms and his trunk to do their job.
Smith may have the best overall hitting mechanics in this year's edition of the Arizona Fall League. The results are obvious, as his batting average and success tell a story of a pure hitter with outstanding upside. Smith has a very solid feel for hitting, as he allows the pitch to travel and uses good pitch recognition in his decision making process at the plate. In each at-bat, he has a plan of attack and a clear idea of what he is able to accomplish against the type of pitching he is facing.
While Smith hasn't hit for power in his brief career, it may just be a matter of time. All the signs point to a hitting stroke that will ultimately hit home runs.
Smith knows enough about hitting to take the pitch where it is thrown. Not aiming to hit every ball over the fence, he is just looking to drive the ball hard. Smith is capable of hitting the ball anywhere on the diamond. Using the entire field, he is a disciplined craftsman with the bat.
Smith has the throwing arm of a pitcher that can hit the mid-90s with his fastball. He has the athletic ability, range and agility to play quality first base. Smith's reaction time and his footwork are very good around the bag.
Smith has terrific hands, quick feet, good balance and an overall solid approach at first base that could lead him to be in the discussion regarding top quality defensive players.
Should the Mets need the versatility, I have little doubt Smith can also provide top quality outfield play. A left-handed thrower, he can be used effectively in either corner of the outfield. For now, however, the Mets are content that Smith is a solid first-base candidate.
I haven't seen much loft in Smith's swing in the Arizona Fall League. However, he can be successful just being a very good hitter and not a very good hitter with power. That said, I still believe the power will come. If that should happen, Smith will be the ultimate middle-of-the-order hitter.
I find this interesting
Smith is part of Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academy and Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities programs. He credits those programs with helping shape the player and person he is becoming.
The future for Smith
The sky really is the limit for Smith. He may well become a perennial All Star. Smith has the tools, the discipline, the confidence, the makeup and the attitude of a winner. Much of his future depends upon his power production. When Smith's power emerges and when he ascends to the big league club are the questions remaining concerning this top prospect's future.
Smith in a word
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.