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How and Why Dominic Smith Became a Left Fielder

Last night, Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario collided in the outfield leading to a ball dropping and the go-ahead run scoring. When a gaffe like this happens, many are sent looking to pin blame. As has often happens since he was first called up to the majors, Smith was an easy target.

Before looking to levy the blame on him, it is important to review just how Smith became a left fielder.

Back in 2011, the now defunct Sandy Alderson regime made Brandon Nimmo their first ever draft pick. Since that time, the Mets have drafted and signed just 27 outfield prospects.

The breakdown goes: 2011 (six), 2012 (none), 2013 (three), 2014 (five), 2015 (three), 2016 (three), 2017 (four), 2018 (three).

Putting aside Nimmo and Michael Conforto, the outfielders the Mets have drafted since 2011 have played a combined 35 games at the Major League level.

Last year, Travis Taijeron hit .173/.271/.269, and this year, Kevin Kaczmarski is 0-for-5 with a walk.

Currently, the Las Vegas roster only has one outfielder drafted from the aforementioned draft classes on their roster – Kaczmarski. Kaczmarski is currently battling for playing time with players like Zach Borenstein, Bryce Brentz, Matt den Dekker, and Patrick Kivlehan.

Binghamton had Tim Tebow playing everyday because there really wasn’t a Mets draftee pushing him out of the lineup.

Champ Stuart, the Mets 2013 sixth round pick, is repeating the level, and he is hitting .136/.280/.264. Patrick Biondi, the Mets 2013 ninth round pick, is also repeating the level, and he is hitting .222/.333/.247.

Overall, that’s just three part time outfield draft picks playing in the upper levels of their minor league system. Combine them with Nimmo and Conforto, and that makes just five outfield draft picks playing in Double-A or high from the past eight drafts.

Given how much the Mets drafts have not provided much in terms of outfield depth, the Mets were faced with calling up a Major League has been or never was or to give the shot to Smith. Given how Peter Alonso was nipping at Smith’s heels from Double-A, learning another position did make some sense.

Believe it or not, Smith in the outfield was not as absurd a proposition as it may sound. He entered the year leaner and faster. As noted by Baseball Savant, his sprint speed is better Jose Bautista and Jay Bruce, two players the Mets have felt eminently comfortable in the outfield. When he was drafted, Baseball America noted Smith had a strong arm and was a “fringy defender with below-average speed” in the outfield.

Still, the Mets were forced into that position because of how they handled Smith.

After he struggled last year, they were wise to bring in competition for him in Spring Training in the form of Adrian Gonzalez. Partially due to Smith’s injury in Spring Training, Gonzalez did win the job. However, he played poorly.

In 21 April games, Gonzalez hit .227/.312/.394. After going 3-for-4 with two solo homers in a game at Cincinnati, Gonzalez returned to form hitting just .267/.323/.350 over his next 20 games leading to his eventual release.

With the way Gonzalez was playing, there was a real chance to call-up Smith and give him a shot. The Mets passed, and they instead decided to stick with a guy who was not producing.

When the Mets finally released Gonzalez, they gave Smith three games to prove he could produce at the Major League level. In those three games, he went 4-for-12 with a double, homer, and an RBI. After that three game stretch, Wilmer Flores came off the disabled list, and he was given the first base job.

With Flores being bestowed the first base job, Smith’s great experiment in the outfield truly began. With Smith not playing well in the outfield, he found himself on the bench, and eventually, he would head back to Triple-A. When he was sent back to Triple-A, he was entrenched as the left fielder because Alonso had been called up and given the first base job.

In the end, you have a former first round draft pick and former Top 100 prospect playing out of position because the Mets have failed to give Smith a chance, the team has failed to develop outfield prospects at the upper levels of their minor league system, and the team is more willing to give failing veterans a chance over a younger player who could improve with Major League coaching and playing time.

Overall, that is how you get a promising prospect in the outfield, and that is how you have two young players colliding in the outfield and costing the Mets a game.

9 thoughts on “How and Why Dominic Smith Became a Left Fielder”

  1. FIVE TOOL OWNERSHIP says:

    I completely disagree with defunct.
    You, yourself called out Jeffrey?

    With the exception of John Ricco…. I know nothing of a defunct Sandy Alderson regime…

    Even if the staff inc. Riccardi and below are gone —nothing, I mean nothing gets done without Jeffrey…

    how many Sandy hires he vetoed?
    that we do not know about ?

    Why is Jerry Blevins here?
    Maybe without salary relief Jeffrey forgets to prioritize the best prospect offer… hopes to seek more tickets against Miami w Blevins still here and less likihood of a blown lead (makes sense and is momentum for next year even if JB is gone)…

    But if he has to pay prorate of $7m he will keep him vs pay him to play for Seattle or Milwaukee… He probably can not stomach that either?!

    But it is all about Jeffrey, his quirks, if he approves then Fred will at times veto and they have no business being equals to the average scout,

    Until a Ben Cherington is hired and cleans house, changes director player dev, scouting, analytics the Jeff Wilpom regime only just decapitated Sandy and blamed him for almost everything.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Alderson is gone with Jeff saying he was taking over Alderson’s role. This is now Jeff’s regime until the Mets hire a GM and being ignoring that guys advice so they can sign and play Reyes

  2. Blu2MileHigh says:

    Leave the Reyes crap alone.
    Rosario and McNeil cannot play everyday.
    They want to give the guy a send off.
    They have few alumni.
    They only have local team smoozers Todd Zeile, John Franco and Edgar Alfonzo who people under 27 never heard of!
    They need these guys to visit the corporate suites during games and Zeile and Figeroa are doing SNY
    The guy lives in Brookville.
    He is DR and can do lots for community affairs.
    With Cabrera gone, Colon gone, the egotistical baby Cespedes will need Reyes to visit….

    Look at some intangibles dude…

    It was only Sandy’s regime when Manfred made it conditional to the bailout.
    Sandy had final say for two to three years
    if it weren’t for the four starters, de Grom for Cy they would have been tanking for the third pick in the draft
    Jeffrey has a much more expanded role as Sandy’s replacement

    1. metsdaddy says:

      1. I’ll do as I please calling out an awful baseball player and worse person

      2. Rosario is still young and developing and showing improvement. And on what planet can you not play everyday at second while hitting .294/.362/.435?
      3. Cespedes player to the point he needed double heel surgery, and Reyes whined to the press about his playing time. It’s interesting you pegged Reyes as the egotistical baby of the two.
      4. Please advise which intangibles Reyes has, especially considering the one he was supposed to have (a mentor) has been disproven.
      5. The Wilpons have never tanked, so why would they start now?

  3. Blu2MileHigh says:

    2nd. G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP
    Half. 20 12 58 53 11 13 3 2 3 7 1 1 5 6 .245 .310 .547 .858 29 1

  4. Blu2MileHigh says:

    Was Sandy the GM for these players:

    Four three #1 and #2 pick starters in St Lucie:
    Beltran for Wheeler
    Bashlor
    Drew Smith
    Lugo
    Gsellman
    Alonzo
    Nimmo
    Dom Smith
    Jimenez
    Fullmer
    Rosario
    McNeil
    Zamboni
    Corey Oswalt

    Traded for :

    d Arnaud
    Syndergaard
    den Deker for Blevins
    Reed for …

    Picked up:

    Not signing Reyes years ago?
    Not signing Duda three years ago?
    Grandy signing, a turning point?
    Lagares hurt last two years?
    Harvey last two years needing a Wheeler?
    Harvey from a 6-8 WAR to a zero
    Cespedes contributing nothing last two years
    Signing Cabrera a smart move?
    The Neil Walker tender was bad but a good signing?
    We do not know the details of Murphy…

    So… What if Cespedes and Harvey were healthy, Ramos was not shot in April, Familia did not lose his confidence, Conforto did not get hurt, David Wright did not get hurt…

    How much of the last two years was GM, bad luck, older players or bad karma?
    How much was it Wilpon going into 2016 w the same roster…

    Yep, the outfield had nothing close to a four tool player in eight drafts…
    The 2011 scholastic draftee is 25 years old…. in 2018

    1. metsdaddy says:

      When you’re the GM player acquisitions are all on you

  5. Rae says:

    I don’t think Cespedes will be able to play in 2019 because he had double heel surgery, and recovery from a foot issue takes a really long time just look at Jay Bruce and his heel spur problems this year. I don’t think the Mets are worried about Cespedes returning anytime in 2019, as the likelihood of him healthfully returning to playing time in 2019 is slim to never as the Wilponzi Empire pockets the 75% insurance payment on Ces’ injury. No. They certainly do not want Ces to return. I think you are selling the Mets short on their outfield prospects as Patrick Kivlehan is hitting 303 in AAA, and Kevin Kaczmarski is also doing well in Vegas. Kacz is also a fast runner, who can and does steal bases, and has a plus arm in the OF, and can go get the balls hit out there. There is also Joey Terdoslavich who can play 1B, 3B, LF, RF, and may even be able to handle CF? Dude is hitting 303 in Bingo, and can also catch and throw the ball, plus he is a switch hitter.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I appreciate the enthusiasm for the minor league outfielders, but the group you mentioned are has beens or never will bes

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