Dom Smith Discusses His Resurgence at the Plate | Astromets Mind

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dom Smith Discusses His Resurgence at the Plate

Mets 1B prospect Dominic Smith has been one of the hottest hitters in the farm system over the past three weeks, improving his slash line from .143/.194/.159 at its worst (on May 8th) to .267/.308/.393 before Tuesday’s game. He discussed his improvements in a pre-game interview with St. Lucie broadcaster Adam Mac before Monday’s game.

            Dominic Smith has had a wild pro career since being taken out of High School with the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft. Still just 19 until June 15th, Smith really impressed in Rookie ball during the 2013 season, which led to his inclusion on Baseball America’s pre-2014 top-100 prospect list, and a promotion to Savannah to start the 2014 season. Unfortunately, he hit more homeruns in his 51 games of rookie ball (3) than he has in 165 games between the SAL and the FSL since (2). You can make some excuses for his poor HR production so far – the advanced competition he’s faced since the start of the 2014 season (he hasn’t faced a pitcher younger than him in either season) or the home parks he plays in (homeruns are tough to hit out to RF at both Grayson Stadium and Tradition Field) – but ultimately, he has yet to show the in-game power that a 1B prospect needs. Before we get to the quotes, let’s take a quick peek at his recent surge.
            Although he only hit one homerun last year, Smith did experience a doubles surge in the middle of the season, with 15 doubles over a 39 game span, and had a very nice 14.9 K%: 9.8 BB%. He has 16 total doubles this year, but he’s hit 15 of them over his last 20 games (!). In total, since his low point, Smith has hit .356/.391/.563 over 92 PA, with a 16.3 K%: 5.4 BB%, which is good for a 190 wRC+. He hasn’t walked much yet in the FSL, but you can’t blame pitchers for not fearing him before this recent stretch, and he’s been hitting the ball too well to wait for a walk lately. Moving forward, it’ll be important for Smith to stay within his hot zones, because now pitchers will be working him more carefully – the league adjusted to Michael Conforto, and they will make adjustments for facing Smith too. Of the 15 doubles that Smith has hit during this stretch, 13 have been classified as line drives or fly balls, with most of them hit to LF or CF. The Florida State League spray charts are less reliable than other leagues (for example, there is a double shown in the chart below that appears deeper than his homerun, but comes with the description ‘Dominic Smith hits a ground-rule double on a ground ball to LF’), but you can still get a general idea of his production over the past few weeks.

Image 1 – Dominic Smith spray charts, before and during his recent surge

On winning the FSL Player of the Week

“It was a lot of different mixed emotions. Being happy and at a loss of words for the most part. My coaches really helped me along this journey this past month, and especially this past week, just getting me right, getting my mind right, just helping me start to produce.”

On what has changed for Smith between April and May

“In April, I missed a couple of weeks because I was hurt and sick. That first week back I was just trying to get my timing back. I was working with my hitting coach Joe Fuentes and the hitting coordinator Lamar Johnson. We were just working with getting my timing down, getting my foot down early and keeping balanced. The major thing that I have a real problem with, and obviously a lot of minor leaguers do, is chasing bad pitches. It’s hard enough to hit as it is, and swinging at bad pitches makes it that much tougher. Just focused on being patient, working the count, and getting my pitch. Then once I get it, don’t miss it. If I get a good pitch to hit in an at bat, sometimes I have good success with that. That’s been my approach the past month.”

On his homerun from Saturday night, which was a walk-off shot in the 11th, and came after Matt Oberste had doubled

“It was a 2-0 count. He started me off with a first-pitch curveball, and then came in with a fastball, low and in. I knew that he had 1B open, so I just trimmed my strike zone down and I was just looking for one particular pitch – obviously a fastball over the plate that I can get my hands to. There was also a runner on 2B, so I knew he wouldn’t try to come in to me, because he didn’t want me to just roll one over to second base and move the runner over – guy on 3B with only one out in the bottom of the 11th inning. So I knew he was going to go away, and with that being said, I was just looking for a fastball, kind of up in the zone, outside, that I could get throw my hands at and get a hit. That’s all I was looking to do: get a hit. I got a good pitch and I drove it pretty well.”

On whether he thought he hit the ball well enough to go out

“That’s a good question, because the past couple of days I have been hitting balls like that to LF, and some have been one hopping and some have been off the wall, so I wasn’t particular sure. Off the bat, I thought in my mind, ‘Double, game over.’ But when I saw the left fielder look up… I was amazed. It was a lot of fun, and it was a good game to be a part of.”

On the celebration at home, which included a Gatorade shower

“I didn’t see the Gatorade buckets until I stepped on home, and then I saw them coming down on me and it was so cold, oh my gosh. My teammates were just wailing on me and punching me, and it was definitely a good feeling at the end of the game. Even though it was cold, and I got kind of beat up a little bit, that’s a feeling that you want to have at the end of the game.”

            During the broadcast, St. Lucie announcer Adam MacDonald said that he is happy to take your questions to the players for future interviews, and that he will try to have more interviews throughout the summer. He answers questions addressed to @StLucieMets during the broadcast, which are available online for free at

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