4

Smoak ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

The sooner he gets here, the better.
^
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My in-depth analysis of Rangers’ first-round draft choice Justin Smoak goes something like this: Can he be here by 7:05 p.m.?

By most accounts, the switch-hitting first baseman from South Carolina is the next Chipper Jones or Mark Texeira. For damn sure he’s better than what the Rangers have been trotting out to the position this season.

Ben Broussard? Chris Shelton? And coming soon to an error near you, Hank Blalock.

Obviously the baseball draft isn’t nearly as significant as the NFL or NBA’s. Much as we’d like to see Smoak playing first and last year’s No. 1 pick Blake Beavan taking the mound tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays, these names likely won’t be in Arlington until 2011 at the very earliest.

For what it's worth, the choice seems solid. Smoak, picked 11th overall, has power from both sides and was rated as the top first baseman by Baseball America. And Beavan is off to a good start in the minors, going 4-2 with a 2.84 ERA for Class A Clinton.

But these baseball prospects are sports’ biggest lot of crapshoots. When Tampa Bay rolls in tonight, just ask them about their No. 1 pick in 1999.

Kid named Josh Hamilton.-- Richie Whitt

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