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.