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Aug. 16, 2008

Former University of South Carolina first baseman Justin Smoak signed a professional baseball contract with the Texas Rangers just prior to the midnight Eastern time deadline on Friday.

Smoak, 21, a switch-hitter, was the 11th overall pick in the Draft after batting .333 in 739 at-bats with 62 home runs, 53 doubles, 207 RBIs and 88 runs scored in his three-year career at the University of South Carolina. He is the all-time leader at South Carolina in home runs and RBIs.

“I’m very excited, very excited right now,” Smoak said from his home in South Carolina. “I’m going 100 miles per hour.”

Smoak was in Dallas on Thursday to have his physical — a hurdle his agent wanted out of the way in case a deal was struck, according to a report on the Rangers’ website. Smoak will be introduced at a press conference on Saturday in Arlington, then report to either Class A Spokane or Clinton to begin playing almost right away.

“We want him to get as many at-bats as possible and then send him to instructional league,” Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels said.