Rangers’ Josh Smith Explores New Paths To Texas

Spring training was anything but usual for Rangers minor leaguers, who started their camp well before the big leaguers.

The lockout allowed prospects a chance to be evaluated by the front office and MLB coaches. A select group was then invited to big league spring training, and it seemed the players took advantage of the opportunity to play in Cactus League games.

Topping that list was Josh Smith, the shortstop acquired last year in the Joey Gallo trade with the Yankees.

It wasn’t so much what he did with his bat, though that was impossible to miss. The 24-year-old also showed defensive versatility, something he will have to possess to make it to Arlington.

The Rangers locked up a shortstop for the next 10 seasons by signing Corey Seager just before the lockout.

But just being in the clubhouse with players like Seager and Marcus Semien for two weeks was Smith’s biggest takeaway from his first big league camp.

“The main thing is the experience of it, getting to be around some of those guys,” Smith said. “That’s been the coolest thing for me, just seeing how they go about it.”

He realizes that he’s closing in on his MLB debut, but knows he still has work remaining. To that end, Smith played some third base this spring and is expected to play center field during the regular season.

Smith, third baseman Davis Wendzel and outfielder Bubba Thompson were the three best minor leaguers in big league camp. The Rangers didn’t address third base with an external addition following the injury to Josh Jung and the trade of Isiah Kiner-Falefa because they believe Wendzel and Smith could play there later in the season.

They came prepared, and the minicamp before spring training and a week in minor league camp had them clicking.

“Within the past couple years or months, you’ve seen the development of the minor leagues shoot up a little bit,” Smith said. “The minicamp, you’re seeing pay off. It’s been really beneficial to us.”


— The Rangers were relieved to learn there would be no Rule 5 draft, because they feared losing righthanded reliever Daniel Robert. He was invited to his first big league camp on the strength of his stuff and velocity, which could have him in the majors at some point in 2022.

— The Rangers expect righthander Ryan Garcia, their second-rounder in 2019 out of UCLA, to make his professional debut in late April. He wouldn’t have been able to pitch in 2020, had there been a season, after having Tommy John surgery, and dealt with two oblique injuries last year.


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