Teenage Jurickson Profar Keeps Showing Up His Elders
DALLAS—No matter where he has played and which team he has faced, Jurickson Profar hasn't been able to escape the attention of being the best player in the Texas League this season at the age of 19.
"They're kind of surprised," Profar said. "They don't believe that I'm 19. It's the same game for everybody. It's baseball."
Age doesn't matter to Profar, who has flourished this season with Double-A Frisco and is continuing his ascent through the Rangers system since the Curacao native signed for a $1.55 million bonus in 2009.
The shortstop was the South Atlantic League player of the year in 2011 with low Class A Hickory as an 18-year-old, when he hit .285/.390/.493 with 12 home runs, and many assumed that he would play in high Class A Myrtle Beach this season.
But instead of treating Profar with kid gloves, the Rangers were hoping he would show in spring training that he was ready to jump to Double-A. Once he did, there was no hesitation from an organization that has a track record of moving young players through the system if their play merits it.
The player standing in Profar's way, two-time all-star Elvis Andrus, is Exhibit A. The Rangers played Andrus in Double-A at age 19, then made him a big league regular as a 20-year-old.
Andrus is also one of the players Profar tries to emulate, though Profar has much more raw power. The Curacao native believes he is ready to match Andrus' age feat after hitting .281/.368/.452 in the Texas League.
"It's good for me to have a guy like that to follow," Profar said. "I just want to be there, and it doesn't matter what day. For me, I'm ready. But it's up to them. I feel like I can go there and get better."
The Rangers brought Profar up on Sept. 1. He responded by hitting a home run in his first big league at-bat.
The Rangers see a 19-year-old only in physical stature, though they've been encouraged that Profar has maintained his 178 pounds over the course of a season that included a second straight appearance in the Futures Game.
Club brass also see an advanced hitter who also has a plus glove, as well as a player who throughout his time in the organization has constantly strived for more.
"When we first worked him out, he was coming to the field early and waiting for the game," general manager Jon Daniels said. "At his first spring training and his first instructional league, he was the first one at the field just dying to get on the field and in the cage.
"He's just driven to be great. That's his mindset. Obviously, he has to prove it all the way up. But so far he has."
Mike Olt was Profar's teammate at Frisco until making his big league debut in early August, and the third baseman has known Profar since he was 17. He seemed young that year at short-season Spokane, but Profar now appears mature for his age to Olt.
"He plays much older and thinks much older," Olt said. "He's got no fear when he goes out there. It doesn't matter who's pitching, he's just going to go compete.
"There are not a lot of young hitters like that, especially at that level. Being the young guy, he doesn't let that get in his way."
That could include a big league promotion after showing as a 19-year-old that he could handle the challenge of facing Double-A pitchers.
"It's kind of what I expected at the beginning of the season," Profar said. "I worked hard for it, and for me it's going great. It's more mental here. It's preparing me for another level."