By Matt Citak
Following Thursday night’s rout of the Phillies, the Mets announced the calling up of first baseman Dominic Smith, the team’s second-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
Smith will join the team for Friday’s game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
Relief pitcher Fernando Salas was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Smith.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson clarified on Thursday that the trade of Jay Bruce was less about clearing salary or acquiring new talent, and more about opening up roster space for Smith.
“We want to get a look at him beyond just a typical September call-up,” Alderson told MLB.com. “With Bruce going to Cleveland, that’s not a direct replacement, but Bruce did play some first base. As the number of veteran players — potential free agents — is reduced, we create more playing time.”
The Mets selected Smith with the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft. In 114 games at Triple-A Las Vegas this season, the first baseman hit an impressive .330/.386/.519 with 19 home runs, 34 doubles, and 76 RBIs. Smith is expected to take over as the Mets’ everyday first baseman.
MLB.com ranks Smith as the best pure first base prospect in baseball and the 41st-best prospect, overall.
“Smith continues to have a very advanced approach at the plate with outstanding bat-to-ball skills, leading to the consistent batting average, good walk and low strikeout rates,” writes MLB.com. “He started to add extra-base pop in 2015 and that translated to more over-the-fence power, particularly in the first half, in the move to Double-A in 2016 … Smith continues to show outstanding defensive ability at first, with very good footwork and excellent hands. With his run-producing ability showing up more consistently, he is looking more and more like the everyday first baseman the Mets saw when they drafted him.”
Smith is the team’s second top prospect to be called up recently, as shortstop Amed Rosario was promoted less than two weeks ago. Alderson has made it clear that, despite having numerous veterans on expiring contracts on the roster, the team’s focus right now is to develop their young players and evaluate their talent for 2018.
“We have made no secret that it’s important for us going into 2018 to take a look at as many of our young players, and players under control for 2018, as possible,” Alderson said. “There were a lot of discussions prior to the Trade Deadline, the non-waiver Deadline. And conversations continued after the Deadline. From our standpoint, it’s about giving as many players as possible a good look going into 2018.”
Smith, Rosario, Michael Conforto, and Yoenis Cespedes will represent the core of the lineup moving forward for the Mets.
Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.