Unfortunately, he will not be starting for the Rangers this year, because he would be fun as hell to watch. But keep your eyes on Justin Smoak, as he is sure to be a solid fixture in baseball's future. Smoak can hit from both sides of the plate with impressive strength and consistency. Covering first base, he is also a force to be reckoned with, earning a .992 fielding percentage in his last two seasons in the minors. Had he been on any other team, Smoak would more than likely have landed himself a starting position, but as it is the franchise has decided to send Smoak and two other players (Mitch Moreland, OF and Chad S. Tracy, INF) back to the minors for a bit more conditioning.
While attending the University of South Carolina, Smoak lead the school in home runs, rbi's, and walks. He never hit below .300, including a .385 during his junior year. He was drafted out of school as a first round draft pick for the Rangers in 2008. In his two seasons with various minor league teams, he has earned a solid .292 batting average. Last year, he was named the IBAF World Cup MVP, after helping Team USA attain gold medal status with 9 home runs and 22 rbi in 55 at bats. For his outstanding performance, he was also named to the World Cup All-Tournament Team. This past December, Smoak was also honored as the IBF Player of the Year in the 'Senior Athlete' category. His perfomance on the field and at the plate is often compared to Mark Teixeira or Chipper Jones. Currently, the 23 year old will be heading back to the Oklahoma City Redhawks, with the hopes of a 2011 debut.
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