It is mid-May. How does your team look? The injury bug has started to bite, and bite some harder than others. We all hate when guys we spent hours studying, and using high draft picks on heading to the DL. We especially hate it when those players miss extended time due to an off the field injury (yep, I’m looking right at you MadBum). From a prospect standpoint, however, these injuries open the door to Big-League opportunities. At that point, the pressure falls on the shoulders of these kids to seize it. In this week’s ODC we look at two more youngsters who figure to get shots from ballclubs who could use their services. First up, Mets’ first baseman Dominic Smith, followed by Royals’ hurler Jonathan Dziedzic.
2017 is 21-year-old Dominic Smith’s fifth year as a professional baseball player. Since being a first-round pick of the Mets in 2013, it was clear the kid could hit. It was also clear the kid could field. The question was whether or not the kid would develop some pop. Since joining the organization, Smith has not hit below .271 at any level of the Minors. The overall resume at the plate is an impressive one: .297/.363/.417 with 29 home runs and 264 RBI in 463 career games. Smith’s power seems to be developing, with a career high 14 home runs in 2016. One thing that is forgotten with a lot of prospects, is that they are kids. Being barely old enough to order a beer legally, Smith is still maturing as a player. So far in 2017, he is off to a blistering start, and like fellow Las Vegas 51’s teammate Ahmed Rosario, is knocking loudly on the door at Citi Field. With five homers, 24 RBI, a line of .329/.386/.507, 14 walks, and just 25 strikeouts in 166 plate appearances, Smith is doing everything he needs to warrant a call. He has always shown patience at the plate, and his 2017 BABIP of .369 is clear evidence that when the bat gets put on the ball, good things happen. Fielding is a strong part of the youngsters’ game as well. Most scouts agree that his athletic ability at first base helps his defensive ability grade out just as high as his hitting. With Lucas Duda recently returning from the DL, Smith will not figure to be called up right away. The kid shows no signs of slowing down at the plate, and will eventually force the Mets’ hand. It remains to be seen if the Mets realize they are going nowhere fast, and need give the youngins a shot in the Bigs. Smith is worth an add if you can stash him, and at the very least, needs to be on your watch list.
With this choice, I am digging a bit deeper than I have in previous weeks. When looking at Dziedzic’s numbers in Triple – A, it is hard to ignore what he is doing. Pair that with the subpar starts of Royals rotation members Jason Hammel and Nate Karns, along with Ian Kennedy hitting the DL, and it stands to reason this kid could get a chance soon. The 26-year-old is not listed in the MLB Top 30 prospects for the team, but is pitching lights out for Omaha. With a 0.94 ERA, a 0.837 WHIP, and a 26/4 strikeout to walk ratio, the lefty is putting himself in the conversation for a callup. While it is unlikely his numbers continue to be so microscopic, at 26 years old, he is a mature rookie, who could figure to be able to handle the bright lights of the Bigs better than most. Not known for overpowering stuff, Dziedzic gets batters out, and keeps the ball in the yard, as evidenced in his 0.6 HR/9 and his only allowing one home run in 28.2 innings thus far in 2017. It is clearly a different pitcher than the one who took the mound in Omaha in 2016. Ending with a 4.95 ERA a 1.40 WHIP in 25 starts, along with a .294 BABIP, and a LOB% of just 66.7%, it is clear that once runners got on base, Dziedzic had a tough time preventing them from scoring. Compare that with a 2017 BABIP of .250, and an eye popping 92.9% LOB%, he is able to pitch out of jams much more consistently. The Royals currently sit at the bottom of the standings, yet are still in a position to make a move. Dzeidzic could be a nice internal piece to help them. While I do not advise him being added, keep an eye on him, especially if he continues to coast through Triple – A hitting.