Rangers announced a series of moves today, including the news that the infielder Josh Smith and outfielder Zach Reks were recalled from Triple-A. This will be the Major League debut for Smith, a second-round pick (for the Yankees) in the 2019 draft. To create space on the roster, Texas placed Brad Miller on the injured list and designated right-hander Albert Abreu for assignment.
Smith was one of the players acquired from New York in the Joey Gallo trade last July, and MLB Pipeline (#7) and Baseball America (#9) rank Smith in the top 10 of all Rangers prospects. LSU has been hitting hard throughout his fledgling professional career, earning him a quick climb up the minor league ladder. Smith made his Triple-A debut this season and hit .273/.382/.422 on 191 AP for Round Rock.
Smith has a good command of the strike zone for such a young player as evidenced by his OBP of 0.420 on 683 total AP in the minors. As noted in Baseball America’s scouting report, Smith “did a great job counting to get pitches to drive, then punishing the balls from one gap to the next.” He rarely hunts, and when he swings on lands in the area, he almost never misses. He hasn’t developed any real power yet, although Smith makes a lot of hard contact and could be more of an extra-base type hitter. Smith is also a threat on the base lines, with 40 interceptions in 52 career opportunities.
Originally drafted as a shortstop, Smith has essentially split his time between shortstop, third base and center field this year, due to the presence of Corey Seager in the daily Rangers roster. BA and Pipeline observe that the scouts weren’t entirely sold on Smith’s long-term viability as a shortstop anyway, and it remains to be seen what his ideal defensive position will be, if the Rangers don’t. not instead use it as a multi-position type of weapon.
For now, Smith will likely spend much of his time at third base, essentially taking Miller’s place as a left-handed third base option alongside Andy Ibanez. Miller’s placement in IL didn’t come with a designation so it could be COVID-19 related, although Miller also left yesterday’s game with a strain in his right hip.
Abreu came to Texas in another trade with the Yankees, the April trade that saw the receiver Jose Trevino heading to the Bronx. A former Top 100 pitching prospect, Abreu was plagued by a lack of control, and those issues showed up again during his brief stint with Rangers. While Abreu has hit a 3.12 ERA in 8 2/3 innings of relief this season, he has had more walks (12) than strikeouts (9). DFA doesn’t necessarily mean Rangers drop Abreu, but with he running out of minor league options, Rangers had to nominate the right-hander and risk losing him on waivers before moving him to Triple-A .