When the Rangers sent Jurickson Profar to Triple-A Round Rock to begin the 2013 season, there were no special instructions, no specific areas of his game to improve.
The game's top prospect is a relatively polished product. He's already tasted the Major Leagues, and he's on the cusp of getting back. In the meantime, all Texas asked its budding shortstop to do was get a little better every day.
"I'm just trying to work on being consistent," Profar said. "I'm working hard every day to get better."
Returning after missing four of five games with sore ribs, Profar took a step forward Tuesday, belting a three-run homer -- his first at Triple-A -- and finishing a double shy of the cycle in Round Rock's 8-6 win over Oklahoma City.
After popping out in his first at-bat, Profar belted his longball as part of a five-run inning that put Round Rock up, 5-4. The shortstop added a triple in the fifth and blooped a single into right field in the seventh.
After squaring to bunt on the first pitch, the shortstop chopped a comebacker at the pitcher and was tossed out at first to lead off the ninth.
The native of Willemstad, Curacao went 4-for-10 in his first three games this year, then 2-for-14 over his next four games before being sidelined for five games with sore ribs. He returned Sunday, going 0-for-3. After sitting out again Monday, he made his triumphant return to the lineup.
The 3-for-5 performance lifted Profar's average from .222 to .281. With eight walks in his first eight games, getting on base hadn't been an issue. But Profar only hit for one extra-base hit in those first eight contests. Tuesday's output could start a new trend.
Profar played in nine games with Texas last season, going 3-for-17 at the plate. He made some strides in Spring Training, hitting .216 with a .322 on-base percentage in 23 Cactus League games, but missed out on the Rangers' backup infielder's spot in part so he could get consistent at-bats with Round Rock.
"I really learned more about preparing for the game," Profar said of his big league time. "Now I'm looking at what pitchers are trying to do with you in different situations, with runners on first or second and stuff. Those kinds of little things."
His continued presence is welcome in the Express' lineup -- the team is 7-2 with him and 1-3 without him to date.
Joey Butler also homered for Round Rock and Robinson Chirinos added two RBIs with a 2-for-4 outing. Brad Mills (3-0) picked up the win after scattering four runs -- two earned -- on four hits over six innings.