Karpin: What The Heck is Going On With Dominic Smith?

I’ll bet if you saw the headline on our nysportsday.com home page, you would think this column is about why the Mets have not yet promoted first-base prospect Dominic Smith.

That is certainly a point of debate but there are other issues that have suddenly arisen concerning the 22-year old who is being counted on as a part of the immediate future, like next season.

In a column, written by Hall of Fame baseball writer Bill Madden in Friday’s Daily News, an unnamed scout was quoted as saying about Smith, “he’s fat and he’s lazy.” The scout went on to say that Smith “doesn’t hustle and he doesn’t seem to want to work on all the things he needs to do in the field.” Those are some pretty harsh words.

I found the scout’s comments to be very interesting in that all you’ve heard about Smith up to this point was that he was a very good defensive first-baseman and a solid hitter that is lacking in power numbers but could develop those attributes later on.

There’s no denying that Smith is a big kid. He’s not tall (6’0”) but he has a wide lower body and is listed at 239 lbs. If you see him on video, he’s not slender but that shouldn’t prevent him from becoming a solid major league player. He’s also got a sweet stroke with a strong lower body which, with the right coaching, should help him be more of a power threat at the major league level.

Going into last night’s play, Smith’s slash line was .337/.394/.533. Does that sound like someone who is out of shape?

As far as the “doesn’t hustle” comment, maybe that scout saw that happen one time. It’s certainly possible with a young player, but we never heard anything about him not hustling. In this day and age, that would be pretty hard to miss. Earlier this week, Smith legged out a triple (you can see it on video)

His manager at Las Vegas doesn’t seem to have a problem with him. In a column written by Betsy Gelfand in last Wednesday’s edition of the Las Vegas Journal Review, 51’s manager Pedro Lopez gave no indication that there were any issues with Smith’s game or his attitude. 

“I saw him play all last year,” Lopez said. “I’ve never seen him play and have at-bats the way he has in the last week and a half, so that goes to show you the kind of athlete and the kind of hitter he is.” Lopez was referring to a seven game stretch where Smith was 14 of 29 (.483) with 7 runs scored, three homeruns and eight runs batted in. (Note: Smith was named the PCL Player of the Month for July)

Lopez thought Smith would be promoted with Amed Rosario. After that did not happen, the manager consoled his young first-baseman by reassuring him that his time would come.

Yesterday, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters that Smith should be with the big team in “the near future.” That future should be now.

The Mets are reportedly keeping Smith down at AAA (not because of his attitude or lack of hustle) until they’re able to clear a roster spot. Alderson has said they want Smith to get the full time gig at first-base when he gets here, but to sacrifice valuable time to give playing time to some veteran players is not the right strategy at this point of a disappointing season. Maybe there’s an ulterior motive here.

Ken Rosenthal reported that Jay Bruce cleared waivers and is eligible to be traded. He’s been playing first base in the past couple of games which tells me some teams may be looking at Bruce as a first-baseman. (Know any teams that may fit that profile?)

I have not seen Smith play all that much, most of us who work major league games have not seen him play on a day-by-day basis so we can only go by reports from people who we trust. The scouts that I’ve spoken to, in the past couple of days, have not heard anything like what that unnamed scout said about Smith.


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