MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the Rangers have promoted first base prospect Justin Smoak from Triple-A Oklahoma City and demoted struggling first baseman Chris Davis in a corresponding move.
Smoak will take over starting first base duties for the Rangers and could hang onto the gig for a long while if he performs as expected. The 23-year-old was off to a superb start at Triple-A this year, with a .326/.500/.587 batting line and two home runs over 62 plate appearances. He has serious, serious upside.
Davis, meanwhile, had been batting just .188 with a 556 OPS in 48 at-bats. He may need to find another organization in order to continue his major league career.
Stats (AAA): .326/.500/.587 with 6 K / 16 BB in 42 ABs. And a .342 BABIP.
UPDATE: Satchel Price likes.
Baseball America’s John Manuel:
On the current roster, Smoak has emerged as the team’s star, with nine home runs to set a USA Baseball record. The switch-hitter out of South Carolina was a high school teammate of Orioles rookie catcher Matt Wieters and is on track to fulfill the athlete development model that USA Baseball dreams of. He played for the college national team in 2007, is on the team now as a minor leaguer and seems destined to suit up in a WBC down the line.
Cuba’s five-tool center fielder, 23-year-old Alfredo Despaigne, has matched Smoak home run-wise. He’s part of the surprising reality: Contrary to its reputation, Cuba has plenty of hitting talent but not enough pitching.
Stats: .375/-/.681 with 61 BB/45 K and 32 HRs in 328 ABs in Cubas’s 48th National Baseball Series. Here’s his picture.
Peter Bjarkman’s blog has much more.
Hitting .239/.354/.356 for Oklahoma City, but this includes a .364 mark with nine walks in his last ten games. In the three contests I saw, Smoak went 6-for-10 with three walks and two doubles. He was controlling the zone very well. I thought his swing got a bit longish in a few at -bats, but in others it was quick and compact. Although he’s hit just 11 homers this year, I didn’t see anything to make me think that the power won’t come eventually. He just needs more time, and he certainly didn’t look overmatched in this contest. Looked sharp with the glove, making good scooping plays and showing the requisite range for the position.
this from MLB.com’s Jamey Newberg:
All things considered, it’s probably unlikely that Texas will purchase Smoak’s contract in September, but he’s nonetheless finishing his Triple-A stint strong. On the strength of a .262/.400/.385 August, he’s steadily brought his hitting and on-base numbers up even though the power that he’s always exhibited hasn’t shown up in Oklahoma City yet. The switch-hitter has reached by hit or walk in 26 of his last 29 RedHawks games.
from Jamey Newberg’s Top 20 Rangers prospects:
1. JUSTIN SMOAK, 1B, Triple-A Oklahoma City (number 1 two weeks ago)
It was a matter of time: Smoak hit .133/.243/.233 through his first 60 Triple-A at-bats, but in his 49 at-bats since then he’s hit .327/.414/.490. At our Newberg Report event at Rangers Ballpark on Sunday, guest speaker Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus departed from the routine Mark Teixeira comp, suggesting Smoak could be a “switch-hitting Justin Morneau.”
1. JUSTIN SMOAK, 1B, Triple-A Oklahoma City (number 1 last week)
Smoak has more multi-hit games than one-hit games since his early-July promotion to Oklahoma City, but not enough of either. He’s still trying to find a Triple-A groove, hitting .133/.243/.233, and though his walk total is impressive (eight in 60 at-bats), he’d gone six straight games without working a base on balls until drawing one last night.
UPDATE: And from BA’s not-so-hot sheet:
Yes, he’s still one of the best prospects in baseball, but Smoak is batting just .167/.263/.258 since being promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City earlier this month. Smoak, 22, went 3-for-6 last night, but those three singles only pushed him up to 6-for-30 with two extra-base hits and one walk in the last seven days.