In years to come, Jurickson Profar's bat might bring an excess of timely hacks that help the Rangers eke out some close victories.
The game's top prospect, according to MLB.com, accomplished that Sunday in Round Rock's 7-1 win over New Orleans. The shortstop belted a seventh-inning grand slam to put the Express ahead, 5-1.
Robinson Chrinios led off the seventh with a line-drive single, and the Rangers' No. 2 prospect, Mike Olt, followed with a double to center. Chris McGuiness walked, Eli Whiteside hit a sacrifice fly and Engel Beltre blooped in a single, bringing Profar to the plate against right-hander Jordan Smith. The switch-hitter belted the first pitch he saw over the center-field fence.
The heralded shortstop from Willemstad, Curacao has been slow to get rolling since being demoted to Triple-A at the end of Spring Training. He missed four games from April 11-15 with sore ribs, but returned on the 16th with his first Triple-A home run, a three-run blast. Profar was 3-for-5 in that game, but had struggled since. He went 0-for-10 in the ensuing three games and was 0-for-3 Sunday before belting the grand slam. Profar finished the game 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.
Profar's batting average for the year dropped to .213, though his 10 walks in 13 games have his on-base percentage at .351 and his slugging percentage at .404. He's hitting .162 over his past 10 games, and he's a perfect 3-for-3 in stealing bases.
The shortstop played nine games with the Major League club last season, going 3-for-17. In 23 games with the Rangers in Spring Training this year, Profar hit .216 without a homer, and lost out on the team's backup shortstop position to Leury Garcia. The demotion gave Profar a chance to continue getting consistent at-bats.
"I really learned more about preparing for the game," Profar told MiLB.com last week about his time in the Majors. "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."
Round Rock is 9-4 with Profar in the lineup and 2-3 without him.
"He basically just needs to get some experience under his belt," Round Rock manager Bobby Jones told NewsOK.com last week. "He's an aggressive switch-hitter who already has played a little in the big leagues.
"It's a learning process. At the Triple-A level, he'll see some offspeed stuff in fastball counts. He needs to learn how to make adjustments. We'll see how he fares. But down the road, he should be a very fine player."
Joey Butler homered and Chirinos scored a pair of runs on a hit and a walk for the Express.