One intriguing aspect of the Rangers ending Chris Davis' pursuit of the single-season strikeout record with a demotion is that they sent him to Triple-A, where top prospect and fellow first baseman Justin Smoak had just arrived following a promotion from Double-A.
There's room in the Oklahoma lineup for both Davis and Smoak, but it'll be interesting to see who gets the nod if the Rangers decide to call up another bat for the second half. Davis can probably put himself at the front of the line by getting off to a strong start, but ultimately the position will belong to Smoak and that time may not be so far away.
Smoak fell to the Rangers with the 11th overall pick in last year's draft and signed for a $3.5 million bonus following a standout college career that included hitting .383 with 23 homers, 19 doubles, and 72 RBIs in 63 games during his final season at the University of South Carolina. He left as the school's all-time leader in homers and RBIs, and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award in 2007 and 2008.
As a switch-hitter with good plate discipline and a smooth swing that produces both power and strong batting averages Smoak has been compared to Mark Teixeira and Chipper Jones. He's blitzed through the minors after signing late, reaching Triple-A as a 22-year-old after just 66 pro games, and has hit .324/.433/.514 with 11 homers, 25 total extra-base hits, and a 48/48 K/BB ratio in 307 total plate appearances.
At worst he figures to be a good-fielding, middle-of-the-order bat who hits .275 with 20 homers and a bunch of walks. At best he has a chance to be perennial All-Star who turns in some MVP-caliber seasons if his power continues to develop. Satchel Paige used to say, "Don't look back, something might be gaining on you." In the case of Davis, that something is sitting right next to him in the dugout every day in Oklahoma.