Profar Delivers On Lofty Expectations For Rangers

Best Player: Plenty of expectations were heaped on Jurickson Profar after he was the player of the year in the low Class A South Atlantic League as an 18-year-old in 2011. Even the Rangers had high hopes, jumping him to Double-A Frisco this season. Profar, 19, didn't disappoint.

The Rangers' top prospect, and arguably the top prospect in the game, thrived as the youngest player in the Texas League. The switch-hitting shortstop, who made a second straight appearance at the Futures Game, finished the minor league season hitting .281/.368/.452 with 47 extra-base hits. The Rangers promoted him to the major leagues in September, and Profar promptly homered in his first big league at-bat in Cleveland on Sept. 2.

Best Pitcher: The sixth overall pick of the 2010 draft—though he didn't sign with the Diamondbacks because of injury concerns—righthander Barret Loux showed plenty of promise in 2012 with the organization that gave him a chance to play professionally.

Loux, 23, was the Texas League pitcher of the year with a 14-1, 3.47 record. He won his first 10 starts and allowed just 10 homers in 25 starts. He also maintained the health of his shoulder and elbow with a strength and conditioning program that has kept him on the right development path in his two seasons in the Rangers organization. He's not flashy, totaling just 99 strikeouts, but the Rangers like him because he throws strikes and competes with a low-90s fastball.

Keep An Eye On: The trade that sent Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the Red Sox in 2010 for three prospects also included $350,000 in cash, money the Rangers used to lock up 14th-round pick Nick Tepesch. That rates as money well spent. Tepesch, 23, went 5-3, 2.89 in 12 starts at high Class A Myrtle Beach and worked 71⁄3 innings of the first nine-inning no-hitter in franchise history. The 6-foot-4 righthander moved up to Frisco in June, won six times in 14 starts, and at times dominated with a plus fastball that can hit 95 mph.

Ranger Roundup

• Righthander Mike Zouzalik emerged from a field of more than 400 participants as the only player to land a minor league contract at an open tryout in Round Rock. Zouzalik, who went undrafted out of Texas-Pan American after going 4-1, 3.81 in 2012, will attend instructional league.

• The Rangers will return to low Class A Hickory and short-season Spokane the next two seasons after extending player-development contracts with those affiliates. The Rangers have fielded a team in Spokane since 2003 and just finished their fourth season in Hickory.