One of the more underrated and special prospects in the game resides in the Texas Rangers organization. 19-year-old switch-hitting shortstop Jurickson Profar has risen from Little League World Series fame to become a top 10 prospect in the game. The Curacao native is well ahead of schedule, playing every day for the AA affiliate Frisco. He has been compared to Jose Reyes, but so far, Profar has outperformed Reyes’ minor league numbers.
Profar was signed by Texas in July 2009 at age 16. The next year, he jumped straight to Low-A Spokane, though he was four years younger than the average player in the league. His .250/.323/.373 line was league-average, not really excelling or struggling in any category. His defense was a bit raw, but his range factor was the best in the league at SS. It was a good 288 PA start to his career, earning him a Top 75 spot on the prospect list.
Last year, he moved up to Hickory, A ball in the South Atlantic League. He exploded for a .286/.390/.493 line, walking as much as he struck out, hitting a ton of balls in the gaps, and also stealing 23 bases. This combination of plate discipline, power, and defense at a premium position at this age is unbelievable. He was named the SAL MVP, played in the Futures Game, and earned the label as the Baseball America #7 prospect.
This year, he skipped A+ and was moved directly to AA Frisco in the Texas League. As the youngest player in the league, Profar has vindicated the move, posting a .300/.358/.518 line. The plate discipline has taken a couple steps back, but he has maintained the power while already squeezing in a 29-game hitting streak. It is clear that Profar will not be in the minors much more after this year.
That being said, what is his place in the Rangers organization? Elvis Andrus was placed on a similar minor league track as Profar and has been very good the past couple years. He is posting great defensive numbers while improving his offense. He just had his arbitration years bought out, so he’s under team control through 2014. With his progression, it would not make sense to trade the 23-year-old unless someone was willing to overpay.
Profar has four starts at second base this year, possibly preparing for a move there. Ian Kinsler is one of the best second basemen in the game and just signed a 5-year extension, but this is a possibility. Kinsler turns 30 next month, so while his defense is currently very good, he is hitting the years where sharp dropoffs are very possible. There has been a little talk that Kinsler could move to the outfield when Profar is called up, especially possible if Hamilton is not re-signed after this year.
If the Rangers don’t want to break up the Andrus-Kinsler combination, it would probably be best served to trade Profar. If the Rangers need another arm or a left-handed bat who is signed past this season, Profar would be a sizzling piece of trade bait. I do not see a trade happening, since the Rangers have not built such a strong organization by trading away such young talent. Personally, I think the most likely option as moving Kinsler to the outfield and having Profar play second base. The Rangers have built an empire through player development, and Profar is just another prime prospect churned out by the machine.