A 1B Prospect Gets Called Up That's Worth Getting Excited About

Not that Ike Davis isn't. But the recently called-up Justin Smoak is on a rather different level than Davis. Davis wasn't considered a Top 100 prospect after 2009, and placed in the No. 60-No. 80 range in most lists before this season. Certainly a nice prospect and a guy that you want in your system, but not the elite prospect that Smoak is. Keith Law ranked Smoak as the No. 9 prospect in the game for 2010 after ranking him No. 15 on his 2009 list, one of the most impressive hitting prospects in the game.

Smoak doesn't have the monster raw power that you would generally associate with the best first base prospects in the game, but he does have above-average power, along with a patient approach at the plate and the ability to spray the ball to all fields with authority. And given the struggles of Chris Davis so far this season, it seems pretty clear that the Rangers have improved their team with this move.

Smoak has destroyed Triple-A pitched to the tune of a .326/.500/.587 line so far, and he's continued to show his trademark plate discipline, with a 16/6 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the heels of posting a 75/81 ratio between three levels in 2009. Smoak is an impact bat with little left to learn in Triple-A, and now that he's been held in the minor leagues long enough to hold off his free agency for another year, it was a good time to call him up.

When the Mets called up Davis I questioned the move, and I'm still skeptical even if he's 6-for-15 so far. But with Smoak, I think that this was a move that the Rangers had to make. Smoak doesn't have the same flaws (pitch recognition, inability to hit LHP) that Davis does, and he seems far more ready to make the transition to the major leagues given his polish and skill set.

Texas is losing ground in the AL West, and they have a team built to contend now. There's no reason not to play their very best players as much as possible from here on out, and I think that Smoak is one of those players at this point.

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