In 2005 Justin Smoak was the toast of the college baseball world. As a freshman he hit 0.303 with 17 home runs and 63 runs batted in. He followed it up with another amazing season as a sophomore when he hit 0.315 with 22 homers and 72 runs batted in. Finally in his Junior season he kicked it up a notch and smashed 0.383 with 23 homers and 72 runs batted in. As you can imagine, he was quite the player in demand come the 2008 draft. However due to his high salary demands,he dropped to the Rangers at 11th overall.
Unfortunately, he never quite lived up to expectations with the Rangers. For what ever reason his batting never really took off. Aside from a run in September of 2010, the Rangers were really ready to deal him when the Mariners were calling dangling Cliff Lee. So Justin took his game to Tacoma and he looked like he was ready for the majors, slugging 7 homers in about 150 at bats. The Mariners moved him up to the bigs, but only hit 0.239 in limited time with the Mariners.
In 2011 the first base job was his and he promptly went out and belted a paltry 0.234/15/55. That should have been his breakout season and it certainly was not. This season is going to be it for the big man. If he can put a punish on the ball for a full season, he will stick, but if this season is a repeat of last season, forget about it, stick a fork in him, he is DONE.
Even on eBay the damage has been done. His cards were once selling for as much as $100 for the low production autographed cards. Now you can have it for about five bucks. People will keep on believing though and saying that he is one of the Mariners top prospects. The truth is that if he doesn’t produce this year he is going to be trade bait. I feel as though he should hit a lot better than he has done, but I think he hasn’t hit rock bottom pricing yet. Hit did hit one homer so far this season, but he is 1 for 9 in two games. Not the start he was hoping for.
What do you think of Justin Smoak’s future?