=== Let's! Go To! the Video! Tape! Dept. ===
In June 2011, M's behind 0-2, here is a two-out, three-run jack in which Smoak visibly reads Guthrie's offspeed, pauses a tick, and then takes a Branyan-like uppercut to simply deposit the ball in the bleachers.
Here is a 97-mph Justin Verlander fastball, outside black, on which Smoak goes four bases the other way.
Here's the Junior swing, mirror image, going deep foul-pole-to-foul-pole.
A line-shot homer off a James Shields change. Shields has one of the best RHP changeups in the majors, with a lifetime +1.52 run value per 100 changeups, despite leading the league* in number of changeups thrown.
I'll cheerfully admit that if Smoak fails -- that is, he only OPS's 100 or 110 in the big leagues -- it will be because he never learned to deal with curve balls well enough.
But I doubt it. My considered opinion is that he's going to learn that part of the game rather easily, and have explained exactly why that is my opinion.
It isn't just the fact that Smoak has shown occasional success against offspeed. It's the way he looks doing it: he studies the pitch, sees it in flight, and the swing shows very smooth capacity for holding back and then delivering acceleration.
It would be one thing if he had to just guess curve, and hit a few here and there. That's not the case. He's shown the ability to hit offspeed, hit it for HR's, when he is looking heater.
=== Dr's Prognosis Dept. ===
Smoak isn't a guarantee for 2012. Neither is Dustin Ackley. Mike Carp certainly isn't. Jesus Montero isn't. Mike Trumbo isn't. These guys are guarantees, like, after their 2nd-3rd season in a row of full production.
Well, maybe Carp's a guarantee - you gotta love the fact that he thinks he's a guarantee. :- ) But y'know.
Smoak's not a guarantee for 2012; maybe his year will be 2013. Or 2014. But I like his chances.
You're a GM of the A's, and somebody else is a GM of the Angels, and somebody else is a GM of the Astros. You bet on your guy, and I will bet on Justin Smoak. And we'll take it from there.