The Texas Rangers have a major dilemma. But it’s the kind that other major-league teams would love to have.
The Rangers have the best prospect in baseball, and he’s currently lighting it up at the major-league level while second baseman Ian Kinsler remains on the DL. Coming off the first three-hit game of his major-league career, Profar is now hitting .370 in 27 ABs since being called up 12 days ago. He’s working on a six-game hitting streak, and he’s leaving Rangers manager Ron Washington with no choice but to put him in the lineup every day. Washington wants to continue using Leury Garcia as well, but that’s tough to do when Profar’s playing like this.
The silver lining to Kinsler’s rib injury is that it’s allowed Profar to build on his immense value to the organization. It’s not like his value would’ve plummeted had he played poorly during this stretch, but his solid play probably cements what other teams already think about him. They can know for sure that he’s major-league ready at either shortstop or second base.
I’ve been amused by how many folks can’t wait to unload him, though. The Rangers definitely need to fortify their rotation with a deadline deal, but this is no time for desperation. You sit back and listen to teams who are interested in sending over a frontline starter in exchange for the best prospect in baseball. When it comes to a rare talent such as Profar, the last thing you want to do is reach on a deal. I’ve been on the fence about whether I’d include Profar in an offer for Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee. He’s having a great season at age 34 and would be a huge addition to this rotation. You would need to see how much of Lee’s contract the Phillies would pick up, and even then I’m not sure if it’s worth pulling the trigger.
On Friday, I asked a longtime A.L. scout to evaluate how far Profar has come since we saw him in spring training. He spent the next several minutes raving about his progress.
“The ABs at (Triple-A) Round Rock were very crucial to him,” said the scout. “He’s never lacked for confidence, but he’s even gained more of that. You’re going to get a lot more power from him in the future than most would imagine. I’m reminded of how (Don) Mattingly was when he first came up. He hit a ton of line drives. I think Profar will eventually be a 20-25 home-run guy.”
The Rangers know Profar better than anyone, but even they have been a little surprised by his plate discipline at such a young age. He has tremendous knowledge of the game for a 20-year-old and the word I keep hearing over and over is “awareness.”
Profar is a very instinctive player, much like Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. He reminds a lot of folks of former Blue Jays shortstop Tony Fernandez, who just happens to be a special assistant to Rangers GM Jon Daniels. Profar doesn’t have Fernandez’s speed, but he seems to have a similar approach at the plate.
The Rangers don’t currently have a plan for being able to continue playing Profar every day when Kinsler returns. But I’m not so sure they shouldn’t come up with one.
Once a young player knows with absolute certainty that he belongs at this level, it’s hard for him to return to Triple-A. We’ll soon find out if he has to deal with that.
In the meantime, the Rangers should continue to enjoy this “dilemma.”