You Can Put It All On The Kid

Profar
At the disappointing end of the 2012 season, your Texas Rangers had to play a wild card playoff game vs. the Baltimore Orioles. In this game, Yu Darvish shined bright like a diamond, and the offense fell completely flat. In the bottom of the ninth, the Rangers were down 5-1 with Napoli on first and Cruz on second with two outs. Ron Washington called on 19-year-old Jurickson Profar to pinch-hit, and I distinctly remember screaming at the television, “YOU CAN’T PUT THIS ALL ON THE KID!” He singled. I guess I was wrong.
Fast forward to 2013. There was no place for Jurickson Profar in the Texas Rangers lineup to get regular at-bats. He deserved a big league spot, but so did every other infielder on the team. Sitting him on the bench would be a waste of his talents. The kid needed to play. A Triple-A assignment is what he got, and that was fine. Kinsler started 2013 off the right way. Moreland wasn’t so bad himself. Andrus inked a shiny new contract that makes him a Texas Ranger for a long, long time. Profar was down in the minors getting regular at-bats, working hard, and playing really well. Things were looking good.

On May 19th, Ian Kinsler was put on the disabled list for a rib injury, and the now 20-year-old Jurickson Profar got the call. Profar had big shoes to fill since, before hitting the DL, Kinsler was producing quite nicely. In 180 plate appearances, he had an .869 OPS with 11 doubles and 7 homeruns. In just 40 plate appearances, Profar has an .864 OPS with 1 double and 2 homeruns. Most impressively, at only 20 years old, he’s still learning, yet he can look like a veteran at the plate. During Friday night’s game, he had four plate appearances, seeing 24 pitches total and working the count full each time. I have a perfect contrast for this, but it’s going to hurt. In that same previously mentioned October game, Josh Hamilton also had four plate appearances, seeing only 8 pitches, and striking out twice. The kid’s got it.

In Sunday’s game vs. the Kansas City Royals, once again the offense fell flat. Yu Darvish didn’t quite shine like a diamond, but he was good enough. Jurickson Profar was part of the offense in the game from start to finish this time. In the top of the 8th, Neal Cotts gave up the tying run, and Rangers fans raged. “Why was Yu Darvish taken out?” “Come on, it’s the Royals!” The confidence meter had run very low, even though the Rangers weren’t losing. The offense just hadn’t shown any signs of life. Jurickson Profar changed that in the bottom of the 8th inning. After two quick pinch-hit outs, it was the kid’s turn to show what he had. After a long foul ball, I remember thinking “this kid’s going to hit one out.” He did. Jurickson Profar tie-breaking home run to right field just over the wall. He sparked the energy back into fans and the team alike. After him, Elvis Andrus singled, stole second, made it to third, and David Murphy singled him home. The kid did it.

It may be a small sample size, but there is nothing about Jurickson Profar’s game that indicates that he isn’t ready for the show. He’s here, and he’s fighting to stay. Thad Levine recently discussed the possibility of keeping him in Arlington even after Kinsler comes off the DL. Where would he play? Everywhere. The kid needs at-bats, and he has nothing left to learn in AAA. He needs those at-bats in Arlington with Beltre’s influence, Kinsler’s advice, and even Andrus’ spirit. If there is anything I have learned from watching him play, it’s definitely that you can always put it all on the kid.

Emily Cates is a Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can reach her at Emily.Cates@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter at @EmLikesBaseball.
Emily Cates

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