Former top overall prospect Jurickson Profar will see his role decrease after a slow start. Does he still have a future with the Texas Rangers?
Prior to the 2013 season, Jurickson Profar was ranked as baseball’s top overall prospect by multiple outlets and publications. While that coveted honor certainly isn’t a guarantee of future major league relevance, it set high expectations for the youngster’s future in the Texas Rangers organization.
Four years later, things haven’t exactly panned out the way many expected. Injuries played a big part, but so did underwhelming performance on the field. Profar hasn’t exactly received consistent playing time with the Rangers, but part of the problem is that his production simply hasn’t demanded it, in spite of his prospect pedigree.
Now, a slow start to the 2017 campaign appears to have relegated the 24-year-old to a diminished role. The switch-hitting Profar began the season in a left field platoon with righty Ryan Rua. But according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, manager Jeff Banister said that Rua will see most of the playing time in left field moving forward:
“I think we’ve given him [Profar] a long enough look to see if we can’t get the bat going consistently, and he’s had some good at-bats, but I think it gets to a point to where you need to try to find production,” Banister said of the switch to Rua, who started against Minnesota in an 8-1 loss. “Where our offense is, we need to try to find as much offense as we can.”
Profar has indeed struggled through his first 15 games, slashing a paltry .135/.289/.135 with three RBI and no extra-base hits in 46 plate appearances. The 27-year-old Rua hasn’t fared any better, batting .138/.194/.138 through 31 plate appearances. Banister evidently feels that he can get more out of Rua with increased playing time. He slashed a more agreeable .258/.331/.400 with eight homers in 99 games last year.
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The disappointment hasn’t been limited to Profar, though. Several big pieces of the Rangers lineup – including Jonathan Lucroy, Mike Napoli and Rougned Odor – are currently hitting below the Mendoza line. Despite this, Texas is in the middle of the pack in terms of offensive production, ranking 12th in MLB with 89 runs scored.
They’re being kept afloat by the contributions of another former top prospect who at the moment is trending in the opposite direction from Profar. While filling in at third base for Adrian Beltre, 23-year-old slugger Joey Gallo has provided a power surge, slashing .224/.333/.612 with seven home runs (tied for the AL lead) and 16 RBI. When Beltre comes back, the Rangers will presumably want to keep Gallo in the lineup, which could further marginalize Profar.
Texas has moved Profar around the infield and into the outfield in an effort to find him a role. With the exception of a few hot streaks, he hasn’t been all that convincing at the big league level. Profar looked like he was finally putting it together in the first half of 2016, slashing .323/.363/.465 through 37 games. However, his line sagged to .166/.288/.228 over his final 53 contests of the campaign.
Even if Rua gets back on track, he likely won’t maintain an ironclad grip on the left field spot. Meaning Profar should still get an opportunity to force his way back into the picture. Nevertheless, one must wonder how many chances he has left to carve out a niche with the Rangers.
Source: Fox Sports