By Noah Wright
Jurickson Profar was long considered a big prospect in The Rangers system back in the early 2010’s. And when he came up, he showed promise, and hit a home run in his first big league plate appearance. However since then, his career has been derailed by many things. The biggest thing being injuries, and being mixed with under performance. But now Profar in 2018 is having a half decent season. Could this season be the start of something bigger for the utility switch hitter?
Before we get into how this could be the start of something bigger for Profar, we first have to see how he got here. Profar was originally signed by The Rangers as an amature free agent in 2009. Throughout his minor league career, Profar showed power, speed, contact, and fielding potential, with 2 seasons where he batted .280+ with double digits in stolen bases and home runs. This helped him rank among the top 10 prospects in all of baseball, and even ranking #1 a few times in the minors. When he got to the bigs, Profar showed up with a bang. In his first plate appearance, he hit a long ball against Zach Mcallister on September 2nd, 2012 at 19 years old. In 2013, Jurickson served mainly as a utility guy, as he saw time at second, third, short, and left field. However, Profar only batted .234/.308/.336 with 6 homers,26 RBI’s, and a very low 75 wRC+ in 324 plate appearances. Sure, it may not have been a great showing, but he was only 20, and had a future ahead of him. The Rangers also thought that he’d eventually grow into a regular role, and traded then second baseman Ian Kinsler so Profar could get more regular playing time. But his 2014 season was derailed once he was forced to undergo shoulder surgery, and would return by mid-June-ish. During his rehab, Profar injured his shoulder again, leading to him missing all of the 2014 season. Then once he underwent surgery again on his shoulder, Profar missed all of the 2015 season. Now it was 2016. Profar had now missed 2 whole seasons, and entered camp as a still fairly youthful 23 year old ball player. Jurickson was optioned to Triple-A to start the season, but eventually made his way back to the majors. However, Profar’s second showing to the bigs was very similar to his first. In 307 plate appearances, Profar batted a weak .239/.321/.338 with 5 home runs, 27 RBI’s, and just 78 wRC+. Now entering 2017, this was Profar’s chance to capitalize on playing time. Future Hall Of Fame third baseman was entering the season on The DL, which opened an opportunity for Jurickson. But he lost the position battle for third against Joey Gallo after he batted just .222/.290/.259 with no home runs and just 3 RBI’s in spring training, while Gallo batted .208/.311/.491 with 4 long balls and 9 RBI’s. Overall in 2017, Profar batted just worse than he ever did in the majors. In the 70 plate appearances he was in, Profar batted just .172/.294/.207 with no home runs, and just 5 RBI’s.
Entering the 2018 season, Jurickson seemed like an odd man out. Every infield position was filled. Beltre was entering the season healthy, and so was Elvis Andrus. Now Rougned Odor was the regular second baseman, and first base prospect Ronald Guzman was on the brink of being MLB ready, which pushed Gallo to the corner outfield. So to start the season, Profar was regulated to just a bench role, and couldn’t be demoted without being exposed to waivers first. However, that changed once Andrus, and Beltre missed some time with injuries, with Elvis missing a good portion of games. This opened a door for Profar and somewhat regular playing time. Between April 11th to June 18th (the time period that Andrus missed) Profar batted .250/.309/.473 with 8 home runs and 40 RBI’s in 246 plate appearances. While he necessarily didn’t go Jesus Aguilar during Elvis’ absence, he still did pretty good compared to his previous seasons. Overall this season, Profar is batting .247/.331/.430 with 8 home runs, 48 RBI’s, and 104 wRC in 372 plate appearances. He’s also seen time at every infield position and an inning in left field. His breakout season could lead to one of two things. The first being that he is traded to a contender where he plays a platoon role, and the other being he stays with The Rangers and could play a bigger role. The ladder of the two is the one I think is the more likely because Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus are free agents after the season, with the ladder the more likely leaving The Rangers after this season. Another thing that could open playing time for Profar is a trade where The Rangers deal Shin Soo Choo, which could be likely at this coming deadline. With more playing time, Profar’s production could improve, making him a more valuable asset, and hopefully another step in becoming the player many thought that he could be.
Profar was once the #1 prospect in all of baseball in the early 2010’s. Since then, it’s been a rough fall from grace. His career so far has been filled with under-performance and injuries. Now it’s 2018, and the former #1 prospect and 19 year old when he debuted is now a 25 year old utility guy who entered the season as potential DFA candidate. However, Profar has finally started to show some promise after receiving regular playing time. If Profar gets more regular playing time, he could slowly grow into the player that he was once predicted to be.