With the Major Leagues on the horizon, Dominic Smith realized it was time to shape up, literally. The Mets' second-ranked prospect enjoyed the finest season of his professional career in 2016, but his body told a different tale. With that in mind, the 21-year-old set out this offseason to do something about it.
Never small in stature, the 6-foot first baseman ended last season weighing 260 pounds, 65 pounds heavier than his listed weight when New York selected him 11th overall in the 2013 Draft. His strong season with Double-A Binghamton grabbed the Mets' attention, but as he told Newsday, he felt the effects of his weight and conditioning as the season came to an end.
"I was kind of, a little bit uncomfortable toward the end of the year. Very tired, and my legs hurt a little bit," Smith told the newspaper. "I wanted to change my regimen, eat healthier and not just go on a diet but just change my lifestyle, just have a clean, healthy lifestyle."
An offseason training regimen at a complex in Fresno, California, and in Michigan with the Mets' renowned fitness expert, Mike Barwis, helped MLB.com's No. 55 overall prospect drop 24 pounds. Smith also changed his eating habits, which meant saying goodbye to a personal favorite, the high-calorie "wet burrito."
The Southern California native now consumes meals consisting of brown rice, broccoli, chicken and salmon.
"There were definitely a lot of weekends where I wanted to sneak out and get a burger or two," Smith told Newsday. "I just kind of really thought to myself and really just told myself to work hard. Fast food's not good for you. Now, if I eat a burger or something, I'll feel very sluggish. I just want to feel good. That healthy food just does so much for your body. It gives you energy. I just feel great."
The difference in his body compared to last year is obvious.
"It's funny -- when I look at myself in the mirror, I can't really tell the difference," he said. "But when I look at pictures, I just can't even believe that I was that big."
Although his body paid the price for a 130-game season, Smith batted .302/.367/.457 with a career-high 14 homers and 91 RBIs, the third-highest total in the Eastern League. The increase in power was something the Mets eventually expected to see from Smith, who admitted that showcasing his slugging prowess took on a higher priority in 2016.
"It really took me until this past year to get my swing in tune with my body and learn how to be a solid run-producer," Smith told MiLB.com. "It's like a game of chess: you pick your spots to do damage with the long ball. I wanted to develop and drive balls all over the field but also play the cat-and-mouse game of picking spots to do maximum damage; in the past, I didn't do that. I'm looking to drive the ball with authority in certain situations as opposed to just getting a hit."
Smith is slated to start the season at Triple-A Las Vegas and, as camp begins, he's comfortable with how he feels. He was invited to Major League Spring Training, where he already has drawn the attention of a key figure in the Mets' hierarchy.
"When you're young, because you've always had success, that's hard to do," Mets manager Terry Collins told Newsday. "Look at him today. He's lost [nearly] 30 pounds. He said 'I'm going to show them that I can do this, and I really respect that. That's tough to do when you're a young guy."