February 3, 2023

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'Uncle Josh' makes big league debut during hectic week

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This story was excerpted from Kennedi Landry’s Rangers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

For about a month now, Scott Smith has been worried. Not for anything major, but for a potential scheduling conflict that nobody could plan for.

His oldest daughter, Brett, was pregnant and expecting the family’s first grandchild at any moment. His son, Josh, the middle child and only boy, was an infielder for the Rangers’ Triple-A Round Rock affiliate and could also get the call to the big leagues at any moment.

What would he do if both happened to be on the same day? While it was an ongoing joke throughout Brett’s pregnancy, nobody in the family expected the two events to actually happen so close together.

Luckily, Scott and the rest of the family didn’t have to worry. Brett gave birth to a baby boy on May 26, leaving everybody free to eventually make the trip to Arlington whenever Josh finally made his big league debut (though everybody noted they would’ve had to miss the debut if Brett did go into labor at the same time).

It was already a hectic week for the Smith family, as the youngest daughter, Carsyn, graduated high school, too. It just so happened that Josh would get the call to the big leagues less than a week after his two sisters’ big days.

Josh, the Rangers’ No. 7-ranked prospect, was able to cap off the Smiths’ big week with his MLB debut in the Rangers’ win over the Rays on Monday, going 3-for-4 at the plate while starting at third base. His three hits matched a franchise record for hits in a Major League debut, joining others like Rusty Greer and Joey Gallo.

“It was kind of everything you dream of as a kid,” Smith said in the clubhouse after his debut. “Just getting here, getting in the car last night, then getting to come to the ballpark and play. It’s just honestly hard to put into words. … For some reason [I wasn’t really nervous]. I usually get really nervous before games, but I don’t know if I was just super excited today. I’m not saying that, like in a cocky manner. But I was just out there just enjoying it like a kid. It was just special. And I really had fun out there.”

The whole family except Brett was able to make it to Globe Life Field, and even his wife Claire’s family, who just returned to the States after a vacation, joined the festivities.

Smith was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of LSU, where he was a star shortstop in his hometown of Baton Rouge. He was one of four prospects the Rangers got in the Gallo deal with the Yankees at last year’s Trade Deadline, and joins right-hander Glenn Otto as the second to make his MLB debut since then.

Smith was called up after utilityman Brad Miller landed on the injured list with a hip impingement. Manager Chris Woodward noted that because of Miller’s versatility, it’s hard to replace him with just one player. So Smith, who can play both middle infield positions, third base and the outfield in a pinch, was the perfect callup.

While he won’t play every day to start, there’s no doubt that Smith will get the opportunity to earn that with the third-base platoon of Andy Ibáñez and Charlie Culberson not yet performing to expectations.

“Josh’s been performing really well as of late,” Woodward said. “He fits everything we do. His character is off the charts and [we love] the way he plays the game, his ability to play defense and run bases and the at-bat quality. We know what he’s about. He’s performed well enough down there to get the opportunity.”

And for what it’s worth, baby Smith only knows Uncle Josh as a big leaguer for now.

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