When the Rangers signed Jurickson Profar, many international scouts were scratching their heads.
As a 16-year-old kid out of Curacao, Profar scored a $1.55 million bonus from the Rangers on July 2, 2009. That was a hefty price to pay, some veteran international scouts thought, for a player who many thought was a better prospect as a pitcher than as a shortstop.
Part of that feeling in the scouting community was because Profar had shown feel for pitching with a fastball up to 92 mph and a solid-average breaking ball at 16, but the other part is that those scouts questioned how much he would hit. Profar wanted to play shortstop, though, and according to a source familiar with the negotiations, the Rangers were the only team to offer him a contract as a shortstop.
Time will tell whether the Rangers were right, but so far it looks like money well spent. Profar, 18, reached base four times yesterday for low Class Hickory, hitting a single, drawing a pair of walks and getting hit by a pitch. Profar’s been getting on base plenty this season, with a .275/.405/.517 batting line through 34 games and more walks (23) than strikeouts (20). Profar has plenty of arm strength, but he isn't your typical tooled-up shortstop in the mold of Jose Reyes or Elvis Andrus. His bat is plenty advanced, though, and his instincts and savvy for his age make all of his tools play up.
• Dellin Betances missed a few starts last month due to a blister on his finger, but the Yankees' righthander has been outstanding when he's taken the mound for Double-A Trenton. Betances, 22, struck out a season-high 10 batters yesterday in six innings, holding Reading to two runs on four hits and one walk. As dominant as Betances looked, yesterday's start raised his ERA to 1.30 in 34 2/3 innings to go with 16 walks and 39 whiffs on the year.
• Rangers righthander Barret Loux continues to pitch well in high Class A Myrtle Beach, where he struck out five and walked two in six shutout innings, giving him a 3.40 ERA and a 52-11 K-BB mark in 47 2/3 innings.
• Rockies lefthander Christian Friedrich has mixed dominant starts with some clunkers this year for Double-A Tulsa, but yesterday's outing produced one of the strangest lines of the year. Friedrich, 23, left after allowing 10 runs, seven hits and three walks at Midland, but just two of those runs were earned. The Drillers committed four errors while Friedrich was on the mound, so it wasn't all on Friedrich, but Friedrich still was able to strike out only one of the 18 batters he faced. The start raised Friedrich's ERA to 5.16 in 45 1/3 innings with 34 strikeouts and 15 walks on the year.
"Stuff-wise, he's been fine," Tulsa manager Duane Espy said earlier in the season. "The games he's had success in thus far, he's been able to pitch in the bottom of the strike zone and use his secondary stuff. The games he's gotten hurt and gotten hit around, (he's thrown) a lot of elevated pitches, middle away, balls elevated around the belt. It gets to the point where it doesn't matter how good your stuff is, if you're throwing the ball belt-high over the plate, good hitters are going to hit you. His big thing right now is having command. He's not having trouble throwing strikes, but—and sometimes it's a silly term to use—but it's bad strikes, it's elevated strikes. He needs to be more consistent with his stuff getting it down, and when he does, he's absolutely fine."
Amazingly enough, Tulsa still pulled out the victory by a 14-13 margin.
• The Cubs paid $1 million to sign Cuban center fielder Rubi Silva in December, and he's come as advertised: an athletic guy who can put the bat to the ball with gap power and a free-swinging approach. Silva homered and hit a double in a 2-for-3 day yesterday for high Class A Daytona, bringing his season line to .280/.296/.415 in 39 games between Daytona and low Class A Peoria.
• Casey Kelly held the opposing lineup scoreless for the first time this season, as the Padres righthander tossed six shutout innings yesterday for Double-A San Antonio. Kelly, 21, walked two and struck out five, giving him a 43-18 K-BB mark on the season. Kelly has the stuff to strike guys out when he gets to two-strike counts, but he's at his best when he's commanding his two-seamer and getting ground balls, which he's done plenty of this year with a 2.0-to-1 groundout-to-air out ratio.
• The Nationals' previous regime left the organization's international program in shambles, but one bright spot has been center fielder Eury Perez. Though he's a free-swinging slap hitter with little power, Perez puts the ball in play and takes advantage of his plus-plus speed, which is why he's hitting .346/.363/.411 through 29 games with 15 steals in 18 attempts for high Class A Potomac. Perez, who turns 21 on Monday, went 2-for-2 with a double yesterday and drew his third walk of the year.
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