Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Banter Man Crush: Justin Smoak

We are introducing a new idea at the Banter: man crushes. Our first: Texas Rangers' prospect Justin Smoak.

Smoak, a switch-hitting, smooth-fielding first baseman, will be a Major League superstar. He has been compared to Mark Teixeira but his swing from both sides of the plate reminds me a lot more of Chipper Jones. His lefty swing is an absolute thing of beauty. See for yourself.

He has been exposed to great players for quite some time as he was high school teammates with uberprospect Matt Wieters. He set the freshman record for home runs and RBI in a season at the University of South Carolina. During his post-freshman year summer, he was named Cape Cod League MVP.

Baseball America's Draft Preview:
A switch-hitting first baseman with power, Smoak draws natural comparisons to
Mark Teixiera. Drafted out of high school in the 16th round by the Athletics, he
has started every game for South Carolina since arriving on the Columbia campus,
doing nothing but produce. After batting .303 with 17 home runs, Smoak earned
Freshman All-America honors. He followed that with a .315 batting average and 22 home runs in his sophomore year--enough to be tabbed as a third team
All-American. He also competed for Team USA last summer. As a first baseman,
Smoak has Gold Glove-caliber actions and soft hands. His footwork and instincts
around the bag are advanced and his arm strength is adequate. As a hitter, he is
consistent from both sides of the plate, and he has superior pitch recognition.
A power threat against any pitch, Smoak has the ability to hit to all fields.
Smoak proved his power translates to wood when he hit 11 home runs in 39 games while playing in the Cape Cod League following his freshman year, though he
struggled with Team USA last summer. He is thought to be the best combination of offense and defense at first base in this draft class.

Watch him hit bomb after bomb after bomb... and then an oppo bomb for good measure.

Read the praises here and here and here.

Make us proud, Justin.

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