In the aftermath of the community prospect rankings wrapping up, I figured I'd do write-ups for each Ranger prospect who finished in the top 25, in the order that they were selected. I have no first-hand information about these guys, and for the hard-core prospect-philes out there, you probably already know everything that I'll be writing about these players.
Nevertheless, I thought it would be useful to provide capsule scouting reports for each player, and a way to fill some space while we wait for the real news to start.
After the jump, I start off by taking a look at the #1 player in the LSB Community Prospect Rankings, shortstop Jurickson Profar...
Jurickson Profar, son of Judeska and Chesmond, first made a splash on the international baseball scene when his Venezuelan Little League team appeared in the championship game of the LLWS in back-to-back years in 2004 and 2005, winning it all in 2004, but falling short in 2005.
Profar was a highly regarded amateur free agent who was signed by the Rangers during the 2009 July 2 signing period for a $1.55 million bonus. Most teams were pursuing Profar as a pitcher, but he was adamant about wanting to play in the field; only the Rangers and Orioles had a high level of interest in him as a shortstop, and there was some thought that the Rangers would let him try the field initially, then move him to the mound if (or when) his bat failed to produce.
Profar has, instead, exceeded all expectations since coming to the States. Listed at just 5'11", 165 lbs, the 17 year old Profar was thrust into the Northwest League in 2010, getting matched up against players who were generally 3-4 years older than him. Still, he held his own, putting up a .250/.323/.373 line while impressing those who saw him with his defense, his leadership, and his instincts.
The Rangers challenged Profar by sending him to Sally League for 2011, where he was the youngest player in the league on the Opening Day roster. The hope was that he'd again hold his own, show some progress...and Profar responded by putting up a .286/.390/.493 line, stealing 23 bases, and being named the league MVP. Profar was named the #3 prospect in the Sally League for 2011 in BA's list, behind Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and he appears a lock to be among the top 25 players in BA's 2012 prospect rankings, and possibly in the top 10.
Profar is fascinating in no small part because of how he defies conventional wisdom. The majority of high-profile J-2 amateur signees are 16 year olds who have impressive raw tools, but little actual game experience, particularly compared to American teenagers who are often playing in leagues and tournaments year-round. They are players who ooze potential, but who have miles upon miles to go before that potential can be actualized.
Jurickson Profar, though toolsy, isn't that sort of player. His tools, by all accounts, rate as solid across the board, but he doesn't have any one truly elite tool that stands out like, say, Nomar Mazara's light-tower power. What Profar does have, though, is what has been described as "off-the-charts makeup," terrific baseball instincts, and a maturity beyond his years. He's a five-tool player, but unlike many five tool guys who are athletes that organizations are trying to turn into ballplayers, Profar is a ballplayer with athleticism.
So, the youngest player in the league puts up an 883 OPS while playing quality defense at shortstop and getting raves about his makeup...oh, and did I mention he's a switch-hitter, as well? So why isn't he the #1 prospect in baseball, or at least a slam-dunk for the top 5?
I think the knocks, such as they are, have to do with ceiling moreso than anything else. With his advanced skill-set and solid-but-not-elite individual tools, there's going to be questions about how much growth potential he has, how much better he can really get. He could be a player (like, for example, Elvis Andrus) who reaches the majors early and establishes himself as a quality player at a young age, but who has a flatter growth curve than what you would normally expect from a player who holds his own in the majors before he can legally drink. There's also at least some concern about whether he'll be able to stay at shortstop as he gets older, or if he will end up moving to either second or third base. That being said, it is hard to downgrade a guy too much because you think he profiles more as a solid first-division starter who will make some All Star teams rather than a perennial MVP candidates and future Hall of Famer.
If everything were to go right, what could Profar be? If you want to dream, go look at the careers of the two shortstops who are getting a fair amount of support on the Hall of Fame ballot right now -- Alan Trammell and Barry Larkin. Both were guys who didn't have one signature skill, but who both are Hall-worthy by virtue of lengthy careers in which they did everything well.