PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — First baseman Dominic Smith, the Mets first-round pick in 2013, is mindful of the rookie maxim to keep his eyes and ears open wider than his mouth.
Though eager to make an impression as a non-roster invitee to his first big-league spring camp, the 20-year-old from Gardena, Calif., said the real opportunity for him this spring is to glean as much wisdom as he can from the veteran players.
“I want to go out there and perform, and do well, but while doing that I want to learn from the other guys so I can continue to improve,” said Smith, the 2015 Player of the Year in the Class A-Advanced Florida State League.
“It’s been a lot of fun, especially getting the call inviting me to spring training,” he said. “It shows the hard work I’m putting in is paying off.”
Smith led his league and the entire Mets organization with 79 RBIs in only 118 games while compiling a slash line of .305/.354/.417. Then, in 14 games in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League the 11th overall pick in 2013 batted .362/.483/.511.
Though Smith’s stats in his first two pro seasons were decent enough, 2015 was a breakout year. The 6-foot, 230-pound lefty had a league-leading 33 doubles and was spraying the ball to all fields more. Altough he hit only six home runs with the St. Lucie Mets last season, Smith said he hopes to “tap into the power department” more this season, but mainly he’s focused more on consistency.
The improved stats, Smith said, are the result of better mechanics after he was advised to reduce his high leg kick. He said he now has better balance at the plate and, as a result, is seeing the ball better.
“If I play hard, I’m sure the numbers will be what I would like,” he said.
He said no particular teammate has emerged as a mentor, but they all help each other.
“If they see me pulling off the ball, drifting in my swing or coming up, they’ll say something,” Smith said. “It’s a great group of guys.”
Probably ticketed for Double A Binghamton this season, Smith said his goal is “to get to the playoffs and win a championship wherever I’m at.”
The Mets’ first-round pick the year before Smith, shortstop Gavin Cecchini, is in his second big-league camp after earning the Eastern League’s Rookie of the Year award with Binghamton.
The 22-year-old shortstop from Lake Charles, Louisiana, also had a breakout season, hitting a career-high .317, third in his league, with an .819 OPS.
Cecchini said he has noticed a difference in camp this spring after the Mets won the National League pennant last year. “You can definitely feel the vibe,” he said. “Bring around the clubhouse, you see a little more swagger.”
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