New York Mets first base prospect Dom Smith is one of the more divisive prospects in the game. Some scouts see him developing into a top tier first baseman, while others have major questions on how much power he will develop. Let's take a closer look at the former first round pick, and see if we can determine which group may be right about his future potential.
Smith was drafted 11th overall in 2013 and showed decent power, hitting 3 homers in 48 games in the Gulf Coast League. Those numbers aren't special, but for a young kid fresh out of high school they're still very solid. He also played in three games in the Appalachian League, but that sample size is pretty irrelevant.
In 2014 he was moved to the South Atlantic League, a very aggressive promotion for a prep pick. According to Baseball-Reference he was 2.5 years younger than the league average. Needless to say Smith struggled mightily, hitting just 1 home run in 518 plate appearances. His triple slash line of .271/.344/.338 wasn't horrible, but the power was extremely disappointing. He only hit 26 doubles and 1 triple, so it's not as if he could just turn some of those doubles and triples into homers. Below is Smith's Heat Map from the site MLBFarm.com. It clearly shows he didn't hit the ball out of the infield often enough and when he did, he mostly just pulled the ball.
2015 was much close to what we've been expecting from Smith. He got promoted to High-A and the pitcher friendly Florida State League. Still, he raised his triple slash line to an impressive .305/.354/.417 in 497 plate appearances. He raised his home run total from 1 to 6, especially important with the FSL's reputation for suppressing power. He also hit 33 doubles, another increase. Then he went to the Arizona Fall League and in 60 plate appearances he hit a very impressive .362/.483/.511 with 4 doubles and a homer.
Smith's 2015 heat map is below from MLBFarm.com. As you can see, his heat map totally changed. Not only did he start using the entire field a lot more than in 2014, but he started hitting the ball out of the infield much more often. Also, his 2014 chart shows that his outfield hot zones were fairly shallow, while last season's chart shows Smith was hitting the ball further on a regular basis.
Smith's 2014 gave people reason to question his power potential, but his 2015 went a long way to showing that he should develop at least average to above-average power. He showed in 2014, even during his struggles, that he should hit for average and get on base, but the power seems to be coming around. He's got a real shot at breaking out in 2015 as he has another year in his development down and will be headed to a more hitter friendly environment in the AA Eastern League.
Dom Smith isn't an elite prospect right now, but he's a very good prospect to buy low on before he raises his value. Considering he made that progress in 2015 at the age of 20, some of those long fly balls and doubles should turn into home runs.