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Rangers' Profar proves proficient
10/27/2011 10:00 AM ET
Jurickson Profar began the 2011 campaign as the Texas Rangers' top hitting prospect. If anything, his performance throughout the season only heightened expectations of the precocious Curacao native.

When the Rangers gave Profar a $1.55 million signing bonus on the first day of the 2009 international signing period, they knew he was something special. "We liked Jurickson's ability," said Rangers director of international scouting Mike Daly, "but the energy and intelligence he plays the game with set him apart for us."

Derek Dietrich

Derek Dietrich, the Rays' second-round pick last year out of Georgia Tech, homered 22 times -- third-most in the league Midwest League -- while manning shortstop for Bowling Green. He hit .277 with 81 RBIs and 34 doubles in 127 games, earning a pair of Player of the Week honors and All-Star status.
Rather than sending him to the Dominican Summer League, where many Latin American teenagers start their pro careers, the Rangers assigned Profar to Spokane in the Class A Short-Season Northwest League in 2010. As a 17-year-old in a league largely populated by ex-college standouts, he hit .250 and stroked 19 doubles, second-most on the circuit.

The switch-hitting Profar was the youngest player in the Sally League at 18 years and six weeks old on Opening Day this year, but quickly served notice of his talent by going deep in each of his first two games -- once from either side of the plate. The shortstop displayed an approach and confidence well beyond his years. Despite his youth, Profar showed such patience at the plate that he drew 65 walks, which ranked third in the Rangers organization. He struck out 63 times and posted a .390 on-base percentage.

Profar participated in the All-Star Futures Game (delivering a pinch-hit RBI triple) in July and was ultimately named the South Atlantic League's Most Valuable Player after helping the Hickory Crawdads compile the circuit's top regular-season record.

Baseball America named Profar its 2011 Low Class A Player of the Year and the starting shortstop on its 2011 Minor League All-Star Team.

Profar ranked among the Sally League's best in multiple offensive categories: second in doubles (37), third in runs scored (86) and triples (eight), sixth in on-base percentage (.390) and 10th in slugging (.493). At 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, he was Hickory's second leading home run hitter (12) and ranked third on the club with 65 RBIs. Profar's 37 doubles established a new Hickory team record.

The youngster was solid in the field as well. His .955 fielding percentage ranked sixth among the 11 Sally Leaguers who played at least 70 games at shortstop, and his 62 double plays were the second-most by a shortstop. Profar has plenty of arm for the position; indeed, most of the big league teams that courted him were more interested in him as a hurler than as an infielder.

"Jurickson has embraced every challenge we've put up in front of him, and it's no surprise to us that he's quickly adjusted to pro ball," said Daly. "He has been all we thought he'd be and more since he signed."

Profar has drawn comparisons to Rangers All-Star shortstop Elvis Andrus, who was impressed with the youngster in Spring Training.

"He's a great guy," Andrus said of Profar to in July. "He reminds me of me a couple years ago. He's a really smart kid and hopefully stays healthy and gets here too."

With Andrus, who is just 23 years old, established at shortstop in Arlington, Profar's name has popped up in any number of trade rumors. Even as the Rangers have made deals to acquire veteran help at the big league level, however, they've resisted covetous teams' advances toward Profar.

"Jurickson loves the game and approaches it with a kid's enthusiasm," said Don Welke, senior special assistant to general manager Jon Daniels. "He's a hard worker from a great family and is intent upon being an impact player in the Major Leagues. He fits the ability and character requisites that we strive to put into the system. The kid's got a real chance to be an exciting player."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.