Mets’ top prospects see mixed results in first taste in the big leagues

Dominic Smith (l.) and Amed Rosario got valuable experience at the big league level in 2017.
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For a big chunk of the year, I was calling on the Mets to call up their top prospects to give them a taste of action in the big leagues. The team did just that — albeit a little later than they probably should have — and summoned Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, among others, to The Show. And the results, as expected, weren’t great.

But results aren’t necessarily the most important thing to take away from the duo’s time in Queens. The players learned what it was like to be in a big league clubhouse and both tasted their first bits of success in the majors, accompanied by their first taste of failure.

Major League Baseball players are built to fail, for they cannot succeed without failure. Even the best of the pros who hit over .300 fail about 70 percent of the time. That is simply the nature of the game. And that’s why it was important for Rosario and Smith to spend some time in the majors this season.

They needed to experience what it is like to fail at the Major League level. And with the Mets under little pressure to win for most of the season, the duo was allowed to fail without being ripped in the media.

The low-pressure environment gave the players the platform to work through their mistakes and improve without worrying about the results.

Additionally, the Mets had a chance to evaluate their young prospects and see if they could make adjustments and stick as everyday starters. The Mets needed to turn their attention to 2018, when Smith and Rosario figure to be a part of the big league roster for most of, if not all of the season.

While the team can’t look too closely at the results, the Mets were able to see how the two fit in the clubhouse, made adjustments, and battled through slumps. And that is where the big league experience plays such a big factor in their development.

Let’s look to the Bronx for a minute. The Yankees summoned Aaron Judge for a big league cameo in August 2016 and despite homering in his first at-bat, he struggled for the remainder of the season, batting under .200 while striking out in more than half his at-bats. Fast forward to 2017 and Judge compiled an MVP-caliber season with more than 50 home runs.

I’m not telling Mets fans to expect Rosario or Smith to slug 50 dingers, but it’s perfectly reasonable to expect to see improvement from the two young players, each with star potential.

Rosario hit .248/.271/.665 with four home runs, 10 RBI and seven stolen bases in 10 attempts this season. While that batting line doesn’t scream amazing, Rosario performed better in September, when he hit .279 after batting .240 in August. He also made six errors in 45 games (374.2 innings). The numbers aren’t great. But dealing with the growing pains in an otherwise lost season will help put Rosario — and the Mets — in a better position to succeed in 2018.

As for Smith, the lefty slugger displayed some power potential at first-base in his 49-game cameo. The 2013 first-round pick hit nine home runs in 167 at-bats despite hitting under .200 (.198) for the year.

Despite the low average, he compiled 15 total extra-base hits and walked 14 times, showing a disciplined eye at the plate. Smith did enough to enter the 2018 season as the Mets’ starting first baseman and the expectation is that more offense will come with consistent big league at-bats.

No one is happy with the Mets’ 70-92 season. But there is a silver lining. The team’s disappointing season gave their top prospects a chance to see what it takes to be a big leaguer. Now, Rosario and Smith can enter the 2018 season with two months of MLB experience to draw on and carry them to a brighter future.

Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4539.

Posted 12:00 am, October 20, 2017
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