The 11th pick in the 2013 MLB Draft belonged to the New York Mets, and it was surrounded with a little extra intrigue this year. This pick was the center of a compensation dispute between the Mets and Major League Baseball when the team was trying to mount a pursuit of then-free agent outfielder Michael Bourn. Due to a loophole in the draft process, the Mets' pick was unprotected and the Mets would have had to forfeit it in order to sign Bourn. Baseball would not budge, and Bourn ended up signing a four year deal with the Cleveland Indians after the Mets refused to part with that choice. The Mets finally got to cash in that choice tonight, and their choice was certainly an interesting one. The Mets used that 11th pick to select high school first baseman Dominic Smith, who attended Serra High School in California.
Smith, a left-handed first baseman, was regarded as one of the best high school hitters in the draft. Smith grew up and attended high school in the Los Angeles area, and he grew up in the same area as fellow L.A. native and former Met first rounder Darryl Strawberry. Smith's well known for his power, as MLB Network's Harold Reynolds said during the network's draft coverage that Smith has the best left handed swing in high school of anyone from the Los Angeles area since Strawberry. Smith fittingly ended up meeting Strawberry as he attended the MLB Network's draft event in Secaucus.
Smith was coveted by the Mets for several years according to a report from ESPN New York's Adam Rubin. Mets scouts have compared Smith's smooth swing to former All Star Rafael Palmeiro's, and Smith's defense is also superb. Even though Smith did play some outfield in pre draft events, Mets assistant General Manager Paul DePodesta told Rubin that Smith will stay at first base for the Mets. DePodesta also stated that there is no doubt that Smith could play the outfield if needed, but he feels that Smith is a "special" player at first base.
The pick of Smith is certainly an interesting one in regards to the organization's overall philosophy towards the rebuild. The selection of Smith marks the third consecutive year that the Mets have drafted a high school position player in the first round, following the selections of outfielder Brandon Nimmo in 2011 and shortstop Gavin Cecchini in 2012. There was speculation entering the draft that the Mets would take a college hitter, such as New Mexico third baseman D.J. Peterson (who went to Seattle with the very next pick), in order to try and accelerate the timetable of adding young hitting to the major league level. This pick, however, indicates that the Mets went with the best player on their board and that they have high hopes for the young first baseman.
In the long term, it does put a bit of a target on Ike Davis' back. Davis, a first round pick himself in 2008, quickly rose to the majors and looked to have established himself as a key piece of the Mets' future. Nothing has been the same for Davis, however, since he suffered a fractured ankle in 2011 that prematurely ended his season. Davis has gotten out of the gate slowly in each of the last two years, and by the time Smith is projected to reach the majors (based on a typical high schooler's development) Davis will be hitting the open market as a free agent. The Mets' stance on keeping Smith at first base also indicates they want him there in the future, indicating that Davis (as well as Lucas Duda to a degree) will need to step it up if he intends to be the Mets' first baseman for more than a few years.
In other news, the Mets had their game with the Washington Nationals postponed due to rain. No makeup has been announced at this time. They will return home tomorrow to open a three game set with the Miami Marlins. Weather permitting, Matt Harvey will face off with Jose Fernandez in the series opener.
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