Pump the Brakes on Profar

A few weeks ago, a reader suggested that Jurickson Profar should be made available in a trade, potentially for Los Angeles Dodgers’ right fielder Yasiel Puig.

Last night, the road back to Major League Baseball began for young Profar. And with that, I could sense the mindset of the Rangers’ faithful. With the wounds of ALDS Game 5 still fresh in fans’ minds – especially since Elvis Andrus is being pegged as the culprit behind those wounds – the frustration was boiling over, and changes were immediately sought after. Conveniently, here is a potential solution – cheap, young, talented, heralded.

After two – two – missed seasons due to a torn labrum and a subsequent re-injury and surgery, the 22 – twenty-two – year old Profar returned to action in the Arizona Fall League on Thursday night. He did not play the field, but instead played the whole game as the Surprise Saguaros’ designated hitter. Hit, he did. He started off his night by lacing a double (batting lefty against a righty pitcher) to right field. After a called strike three and a fly out, Profar came up as the final out with the Saguaros trailing by one run and was one strike away from ending the game when he cracked a game-tying homer to right field.

Sound familiar?

For the rest of September, Profar had one more hit – a double – in eight more games. The following year, playing mostly as the backup to Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler, Profar played in 85 games, to the tune of a .234/.308/.336 slash line with a 97% fielding percentage. After that year, when flashes of brilliance interrupted by irregular playing time were displayed, the Rangers traded Kinsler in order to give Profar the regular at-bats that everyone thought would trigger the fulfillment of the number one prospect in baseball.

We never found out, though, as Profar injured his shoulder and became another in the list of injuries that plagued the 2014-15 Rangers.

Here we are again, however, Rangers fans, and I implore you, please, as promising, encouraging and positive as Jurickson Profar’s AFL debut was on Thursday, do not hasten to call for his immediate insertion into the 2016 Major League roster. Profar may very well be a stud, in every baseball sense of the word, but he still missed two entire seasons. Two seasons is a lot for a seasoned Major League player to miss and come back in proper form, let alone a 22-year old who still needed time to develop.

For now, I maintain my feelings and opinion that Profar will play the entirety of 2016 (maybe minus September) in Triple A. On top of simply (simply! ha!) maintaining the level of production the Rangers want to see out of him, not just as a hitter, but as a shortstop with an elite throwing arm, Profar absolutely has to show that he can stay healthy and that the shoulder can withstand the rigors of a series of games. Playing well in the Arizona Fall League would be a step in the right direction.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If we’re going to call for the trade of Elvis Andrus, make sure that your supporting argument isn’t simply, “Well, they have Jurickson Profar to take over shortstop in 2016!”

Because…what if they don’t?

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Matt Fisher
Matt Fisher is an Editor/Staff Writer for ShutdownInning. He is a baseball lifer, preferring to use the eye test and rely on the knowledge and analysis of baseball minds greater than his, while using relevant stats to encourage situational discussions. He is also co-host of The Most Valuable Podcast on the NextWave Radio Network, talking sports, entertainment, and sports entertainment.

While Matt's favorite team will always be his hometown Texas Rangers, he knows the ongoing story lines of every team in Major League Baseball. If you sit next to him at a game, be prepared to hear him try and do play-by-play. If you're famous and reading this, just know that he's not afraid to drop names.

Matt Fisher. ShutdownInning Editor/Staff Writer

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