A spot on the 2018 New York Mets isn’t promised to first base prospect Dominic Smith. He’ll have to earn it.
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After a disappointing cameo in 2017, it appears that Smith does not have a guaranteed starting job for next season, as general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters, per Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Will Dom Smith have to win the first base job in spring training? "He didn't win it in September, let's put it that way," Alderson said.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) November 13, 2017
There’s no doubt that Smith struggled last season, slashing .198/.262/.395. However, he did hit home runs at a pace that would give him 30 over a 162 season, and he showed that the high-pressure moments weren’t too big for him.
Smith last hit below .300 for a full season at age 19 with Single-A Savanah (.271). In fact, that’s the only time he failed to hit above .300 in a season prior to his MLB debut. It’s highly unlikely that he repeats his struggles from 2017.
According to Newsday‘s Marc Carig, Alderson sounded displeased with Smith’s conditioning as well.
“Dominic’s going to have to be careful about his conditioning, certainly in the next few years if not throughout his career.”
Sandy Alderson on Dom Smith
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) November 14, 2017
While there’s no doubt that Smith’s weight was a concern, it’s important to note that he had lost a lot of weight entering the season. The fact that he added the weight back on during the season was a concern, but it’s difficult for players in the Pacific Coast League to maintain a healthy a diet.
It’s a lot of long bus rides and cheap fast food. It’s not an excuse, just a reality. He’ll need to maintain a healthy diet full-time if he hopes to stay in the major leagues, but there is a reason for optimism: He’s dropped weight in the offseason before.