2080 Prospect Spotlights (07.16 edition)

Dominic Smith, 1B, Mets, Mets Prospects
Dominic Smith, 1B, Mets, Mets Prospects

Feature Photo: Dominic Smith, 1B, Mets


We are back from the All-Star break with Spencer Hanson’s breakdown of Mets shortstop Amed Rosario and first baseman Dominic Smith after viewing a recent series between the Triple-A Las Vegas 51’s (NYM) and the Tacoma Rainiers (SEA).  Dave DeFreitas revisits the profile of Luis Alexander Basabe, who is taking a second year in High A ball, this time with the White Sox after he was moved by the Red Sox as part of the Chris Sale (LHP, Red Sox) megadeal this past offseason.  And Nick Janssen has a look at the projectable Mario Feliciano (C, Brewers) who is acclimating to his first full season of pro ball at Class A Wisconsin, with mixed results so far.


2080 Prospect Spotlights


Amed Rosario, SS, Mets (Triple-A Las Vegas, Pacific Coast League)
Ht/Wt: 6’2’’/190 lbs.       B/T: R/R      Age (as of April 1, 2017): 21y 4m

Rosario is five years younger than the average player in the Pacific Coast League, and yet he’s displayed some of the most dynamic tools throughout the league in 2017. He is slashing .314/.357/.465 through 77 games, and is pushing the envelope for a promotion to The Show.

The 21-year-old displays outstanding hand-eye coordination and well-above-average bat speed with plus bat-to-ball skills. Rosario usually has a patient approach at the plate, but won’t hesitate to ambush fastballs that catch the fat part of the plate early in the count if given the opportunity. He consistently makes hard contact to all fields, and should grow into an average power profile with some projection left in his wirey-athletic frame.

Rosario has double-plus raw speed and is a legitimate base-stealing threat. Although, he isn’t an ultra-aggressive basestealer, he has good baserunning instincts, and will go from first-to-third base and score from first on a double, most times with ease.

Rosario has such smooth actions that sometimes his nonchalant demeanor can be mistaken for laziness, however they are anything but lackadaisical. Rosario’s speed and athleticism play well at shortstop, and he has soft hands and clean footwork that allow him to cover a lot of real estate and make strong, accurate throws. He also displays a flare for the tough play with a good game clock that allows him to slow the game down pretty effortlessly.

Being just 21 years old and developing his tools at the Triple-A level speaks to how much the Mets think of him. He has all the makings of a future Role 55, above-average everyday shortstop, with a Role 60, and some All-Star games, as his ceiling. It would be hard to see Rosario make his debut before rosters expand September 1, however, with his performance in Las Vegas, he’s making a strong push for a promotion sooner than that. – Spencer Hansen


Dominic Smith, 1B, Mets (Triple-A Las Vegas, Pacific Coast League)
Ht/Wt: 6’0’’/250 lbs.       B/T: L/L      Age (as of April 1, 2017): 23y 9m

After being selected out of Junipero Serra H.S. (Gardena, CA) with the 11th-overall pick by the Mets in the 2013 draft, Smith has been a model of consistency in the minors, slashing .299/.364/.419 for his career, while improving his on-base and slugging numbers every year. He’s steadily advanced a level in each of his pro seasons, and importantly, he’s proven he can manage his hefty frame and stay healthy in the process, with just a single 7-day DL stint being offset by what should be a fourth consecutive year of 497-or-more plate appearances.

What stands out about Smith is his outstanding poise and presence in the box. Smith displays above-average bat speed and bat-to-ball skills that help him make hard contact to all fields. When Smith entered pro ball he had a level swing plane, but as he’s matured he has started hitting for more over-the-fence pop with six home runs in 2015, 14 in 2016, and 12 through 90 games in 2017 – all while hitting .300-plus with solid 50-60 point delta between the average and the OBP. Smith has a patient approach at the plate, sometimes to a fault, taking good pitches that he should drive. However, Smith has an advanced feel for the strike zone and pitch recognition.

Defensively, Smith is deceptively athletic for his frame, with soft hands and good footwork around the base with average arm strength and accuracy. The 23-year-old’s instincts play on the dirt as well and should allow him to be an above-average defender at first base. Smith is a below-average runner and isn’t a base-stealing threat by any means, but he does run the bases well with good instincts and reads, which will propel him occasionally from first-to-third base on a single.

With a double-plus hit tool and improving power numbers, Smith has the makings of at least an above-average, Role 55 everyday first baseman who can hold down first base quite well as an everyday player, and if he continues to adjust to advanced pitching as he has so far, he could hit a ceiling of a Role 65, All-Star player with the bat leading the profile. Mets first baseman Lucas Duda is set to become a free agent at season’s end, it seems likely the first base job is Smith’s to lose coming into spring training 2018. With his advanced approach and offensive skillset, he can be a force in the middle of the Mets’ lineup for years to come. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Smith reach the Mets when rosters expand on September 1 to give him a taste of the big leagues before his ascent to the everyday roll next year. – Spencer Hansen



Luis Alexander Basabe, CF, White Sox (High A Winston-Salem, Carolina League)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/160 lbs.       B/T: S/R   Age (as of April 1, 2017): 20y 8m

One of the lesser known names in last winter’s Chris Sale (LHP, Red Sox) blockbuster, Basabe houses the tools to at some point in the not-too-distant future be an above average everyday contributor in center field at the big league level. Around this time last season, I wrote up Basabe while he was in the Red Sox’ system, and highlighted his advanced feel for the strike zone and his excellent bat-to-ball skills. He is not an overly physical kid, but his broad shoulders indicate that he has room to fill out and get stronger while maintaining the plus athleticism that will help him to make an impact in center field. That all said, 2017 has not been as kind to Basabe, and he has been slow to produce in terms of extra-base pop and batting average (hitting .214 with a .632 OPS through 358 plate appearances after this weekend). His .283 BABIP is also relatively low, and while it may indicate that bad luck could be a partial factor, he is also not consistently making the hard contact that he showed while with Boston in 2016.

Despite the first half struggles for the young switch-hitter, there are several signs that Basabe, who at 20 years old is still on the younger side for the level, will turn in a strong back nine this year and continue to develop. His strikeouts are down 1.4% to 24.6% this year versus 2016, but he is missing more pitches in the middle of the plate than he has in the past. Basabe has shown a jump in his walk rate, going from 9% in 2016 to 11.3% so far this year, so his overall knowledge of the zone is still there — but the increased quality of stuff he is facing on a daily basis has been a challenge for him and impacted his ability to make consistent, hard contact. The bat speed is still there, so as he adjusts to the level, the power should come. In addition, he is 15-for-19 in stolen bases and has been very good playing every day in center field, making excellent examples of his ability to impact the game in several areas. Even if the offensive struggles leak into the second half, it does little to detract from how good of a player Basabe will become. Dave DeFreitas


Mario Feliciano, C, Brewers (Class A Wisconsin, Midwest League)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/195 lbs.       B/T: R/R   Age (as of April 1, 2017): 18y 3m

Feliciano, the Brewers’ 2016 Competitive Balance Round B pick, has a thin, athletic build with room to develop as he matures physically, which will help meet the physical demands of the position.

He’s a line-drive hitter showing limited power that’s manifests mainly to pull side. Feliciano gets steep on the backside of his swing path, which limits his ability to get on plane early to create loft (just three home runs in 308 PA’s). He flattens out through the zone by using good hand-eye coordination with a middle- to opposite-field approach. He stays through pitches middle/away well, making consistent hard contact with extension through the ball, but he is inconsistent handling velo on the inner third as his lengthy load causes him to be late to the heater. When he does get to it, it’s because he is forced to take a shorter path to the ball and reduces his extension – leading to weak contact. Feliciano shows advanced two-strike approach as he widens out and shortens his swing to limit the strikeouts (14.5 K%), and he does show a good eye at the plate, with a .313 OBP despite a .242 batting average.

Feliciano has the makings of an average catcher in the big leagues, but needs consistency. He’s agile behind the plate, showing soft hands and the arm strength is above average (28% CS%), but receiving skills need improvement, lacking consistency at presenting marginal pitches. He blocks balls within the plate area well but will need to improve his lateral movement to reach pitches on the outer margins and reduce the passed balls (eight in 50 games, and seven in 20 games last year in the AZL). His pop times are in the two-second range and he is accurate when the footwork is executed, but the footwork can be plodding at times, causing throws to tail offline.

He’s a 4.44-second runner from home-to-first base, and while not a basestealer, he reads pitchers well and gets good enough jumps to turn the speed he does have into eight stolen bases this year, and once underway his speed is usable on the basepaths.

Still just 18 years old and playing his first full season of pro ball, Feliciano must refine his receiving skills and build more consistency blocking balls. All in, he has moderate risk ceiling of a Role 55, above average backstop, and a floor of Role 45 player. Realistically, he’s got the time to develop physically and defensively, and I see him settling in as a Role 50, average everyday catcher in the big leagues, with the bat being the more prominent tool in the profile. Nick Janssen