Round Rock shortstop Jurickson Profar, the top-rated prospect in the minor leagues, was once viewed as a cornerstone player for the Texas Rangers.
But with the Rangers having signed middle infielders Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler to long-term deals, there's speculation Profar might be a key part of a trade to acquire an All-Star caliber pitcher or outfielder.
Regardless of which major league franchise Profar begins his career with, the 20-year-old rising star showed Tuesday night in the opening game of a four-game series against the RedHawks what all the hype is about.
Profar was a double shy of hitting for the cycle.
“He basically just needs to get some experience under his belt,” said Round Rock manager Bobby Jones. “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 off-speed 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.”
Very fine player? Typical Jones, who managed the RedHawks for years before team president Nolan Ryan moved the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate to the Austin area.
A career .277 hitter, Profar's batting average doesn't tell the entire story. He has drawn nearly as many walks (167) as strikeouts (198) to compile a .370 on-base percentage.
Profar probably doesn't have as high a ceiling as other young stars such as Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. Still, slick fielding shortstops that can get on base, hit for power and steal bases are potential All-Stars.
At one point the Rangers considered moving Profar to second base, knowing they might re-sign Andrus. There was talk Kinsler might move to first base or the outfield to make room for Profar.
But early this season, Kinsler remains at second base with Texas and Profar remains at shortstop at the Triple-A level; he will occasionally play second.
“The kid just loves to play,” Jones said. “He knows all that stuff they're talking about and knows there's nothing he can do about it. He's a great kid to be around. He just goes out and plays his game and has fun.”
Round Rock third baseman Mike Olt, another elite minor league prospect, joined the Rangers organization at age 21 after a standout college career at Connecticut. Profar was 17 when he and Olt broke in together with Spokane in short season Class A three years ago.