Dom Smith and Adrian Gonzalez are set to compete for the starting job at first base, but could they both win?
When asked about the possibility of starting the season with two first basemen on the roster, Mickey Callaway sang both men’s praises, but remained noncommittal.
“I expect we’re going to have two first basemen that are going to have good camps, and that is going to be a tough decision,” Callaway told reporters during his press conference on Tuesday.
Callaway said that although he’s impressed with Dom’s preparedness, he’ll have his work cut out for him if he wants to start the season in Queens.
“I had a talk with him,” Callaway explained. “The expectation for Dom is to go out there and do everything he can to be on the major league team.”
Most have penciled in Gonzalez as the Opening Day starter, and while a healthy A-Gon may be a lock, Dom shouldn't be overlooked. Here's why:
Dom-inant Physique. Smith has shed 30 pounds and entered camp in prime baseball shape. That improved athleticism should allow him to showcase not just a quicker bat, but the plus-defense that he had a reputation for when the Mets drafted him. Dropping the weight also shows coaches that he is capable of listening to critics and subsequently fixing a problem.
More Power on the Way. One of the big concerns about Dom’s transition to the majors was that he’d lack power, but he alleviated those doubts by blasting nine HRs in 167 at-bats in his debut. With a full training camp to work with the hitting staff and tune his swing, Dom will continue to substantiate his power, which will ultimately warrant major league at-bats.
Progressing the Development. If Dom is going to keep any kind of forward momentum on his development as a player, then from this point on, he needs to face Major League pitching. It’s “been there, done that” for him in Vegas, and I feel like more time at Triple-A will cause Dom to regress. Furthermore, if Gonzalez is going to serve as mentor for Dom, as he's stated he will, they need to be in the same clubhouse.
I’ve been Team Dom from the start, but I admit that his 2017 performance and physical appearance left me skeptical. After seeing him report to camp, those doubts are gone. He appears confident and seems determined to re-introduce himself to Mets fans as the top prospect we hoped him to be. Keep up the good work Dom, we’ll hopefully see you on Opening Day.
Photo credits: Mets
Chris McShane | Amazin' Avenue
Mitchell Leff | Getty Images