Very soon, spring training and Fantasy Baseball drafting will start, but like the rest of us, the New York Mets had to get their holiday shopping done recently. But as they always do, the Mets didn’t go to the store alone. Shortstop Amed Rosario, a very intriguing Fantasy prospect for 2018, and Mets first baseman Dominic Smith, who will be monitored closely by NL-only leaguers, found some new and grateful friends in the community to take with them to a Target store near Citi Field in Queens, New York.
Rosario and Smith took part in the Mets Second Annual Holiday Shopping Spree in Elmhurst. The Mets worked with The River Fund to select 10 children to participate in the shopping spree, which aims to assist underprivileged families during the holidays. For Rosario, it was the first time he had ever participated in such an experience.
“It means the world to me, it’s an honor to be able to put a smile on a child’s face,” Rosario said.
To a lesser degree of importance in our overall world, Rosario is certainly an up-and-comer that can potentially make Fantasy Baseball players very happy in 2018 and beyond. Last year, there was intense speculation as to when he would arrive. At just 22 years old, he is an exciting bundle of potential, with immediate promise to hit double figures in homers and steal in the range of 20 bases pretty quickly.
An early look around the industry has Rosario projected in the 20 to 30 range in shortstop rankings, which could make him a later value pick to boost you somewhat in power and speed when you are looking to fill out your middle infield spots. Rosario did face challenges during his 2017 debut, as indicated by his .271 OBP and 50.9 pct groundball rate. It was certainly different as a hitter for him in his first 170 MLB at-bats, even after coming up from the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. I asked Rosario what was it what like coming from the PCL to the Majors, and he indicated it was one big hurdle to overcome at once.
“I think just making the adjustment, that was the biggest thing, coming here to the big leagues,” he said.
But Rosario has youth, great athletic ability and opportunity on his side. In Triple-A in 2017, he hit .328 with seven homers and 19 steals in 94 games. In five minor league seasons he hit .291 with a .336 OBP. He will need to increase his Hard Hit percentage from 24.1 percent. His swing percentage of 55.3 and his very high O-Swing rate of 45.5 percent indicate a very aggressive approach. Rosario, though, seemed well aware of the adjustments he has to make to truly succeed soon.
Amed Rosario has something to prove in 2018 https://t.co/MXa5u6hJKA
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) December 19, 2017
“(Working on my aggressive approach) is important but for me but the thing that’s really important that I focus on is my strike zone. I know it was a little big and I know I really need to work on making that smaller.”
Rosario did strike out 28.8 percent of the time last year in the Majors, but that mark was 15.8 percent at Triple-A. So it’s apparent that Rosario is very capable of fine-tuning his game to produce more optimum numbers, it just may mean his Fantasy owners will have to be patient as the future Mets star progresses into maybe their best shortstop since Jose Reyes in his prime. He’s likely best tabbed in the later double-digit rounds of your drafts.
Dominic Smith looks to change some minds
Smith is a cheerful fellow who seems at ease with fans and being in the New York atmosphere. He seemed to get a genuine thrill out of the Holiday Shopping Spree.
“This is one of my favorite days, especially of this year,” Smith said. “We had a blast today, it was an awesome day and something I will always remember and cherish.”
Rumors have been circling all offseason about Smith having to compete for the first base job, possibly with an incoming veteran that still has yet to be acquired. Last year he hit .198 with nine home runs in 49 games.
“It was a big adjustment because the level of competition in the big leagues is so good. Every day you’re facing a bona fide ace or a legit starter,” Smith said.
Smith’s performance last season prompted recent comments from Mets GM Sandy Alderson about how he did not win the first base job last season. Alderson also communicated the same sentiments to Smith during their 2017 exit interview session. And Smith respected Alderson’s straightforward approach.
“They drafted me in the first round (in 2013) so they expect me to be a first-round type of player. I didn’t live up to expectations but I’m not going to take that and be upset about that,” Smith said. “It’s about winning. You can’t blame him for that.”
Like Rosario, Smith showed considerable promise at Triple-A last year, with a .330 AVG, .386 OBP with 16 homers and 77 RBIs in 114 games. He consistently had good OBP totals in the minors before falling to .262 with the Mets last year.
I definitely have a different mindset coming into next season. I learned a lot. I was up there for six weeks and I am not taking anything for granted. Every day I wake up and get to put on this jersey for the New York Mets it’s just an honor and pleasure. You know you have to be realistic with a lot of situations,” Smith said.
At 6’0″, 239, there was also some talk about his weight but Smith said he is cognizant of that, and past stars such as Prince Fielder dealt with that type of perceived issue and succeeded.
“It’s always going to be a topic and issue no matter how good you are. This is something I want to get under control and never make it an issue again,” he said. “I’m working my butt off, I’m coming to spring training to win that job.”
If Smith can get his line drive rate back up to the range of 28.3 percent he had in the minors, which dipped to 16.7 last year in MLB, he’s confident he can create some positive buzz. But the 23.5 percent from 2016 will do just fine as well. He said he has already been discussing his mechanics this offseason with Mets Assistant Hitting Coach Pat Roessler.
“I was dipping my back shoulder, the barrel of my bat was casting out and I just got long,” he said of his swing.
Smith certainly has a lot to prove and like Rosario, he is only 22 years old with time to turn things around more in the direction of his 2017 Minor League numbers. Keep him on your radar as a waiver pickup sometime during the year. You cannot totally write him off based on less than a full season of sample size. Dominic Smith may have Fantasy relevance again very soon. No savvy Fantasy player should forget about a recent first-round pick by a Major League team.