FanGraphs has their list of the Rangers' top 10 prospects up, and the thing that jumps out at me is the top of the list, where Jurickson Profar checks in at #1, ahead of Martin Perez.
Almost every list I've seen this offseason has Perez first, generally followed by, in some order, Profar, Engel Beltre, and Tanner Scheppers. Not only does Marc Hulet, author of this piece, have Profar ranked first, he doesn't have Beltre in the top 10.
Beltre and Profar are a fascinating study in contrasts, to me...both guys seem to be viewed as very confident and having a good makeup, and both are, of course, Latin American signees who have been fast-tracked.
Beltre, though, is a tool box guy who scouts appear to think has the potential to do special things. That doesn't mean he's likely to do special things, of course...his 75th percentile projection may well be Juan Encarnacion, while his flameout would be turning into another Greg Golson or someone like that. But Beltre is viewed as having the tools that give him the potential to be something really special, and if it clicks, he could potentially be an above-average defender in centerfield who hits for a good average, has some power, and has some speed. That's an All-Star caliber player.
Profar, on the other hand, comes across as the Very Rich Man's Marcus Lemon. Here's what Jason Parks had to say about Profar last week:
2. SS Jurickson Profar
Positive Attributes: Very advanced for his age; average-to-plus projections across the board; slick glove with plus arm; good hit tool; excellent overall awareness and polish
Negative Attributes: Lacks elite tool grades; power projection is average; average speed; needs to add strength to swing; overly precocious (not really a negative, but give me a break)
And I think the concern about Profar, as there is with a lot of 17-18 year old shortstop prospects, is whether he'll be able to stay at the shortstop position as he gets older and develops...polished guys who don't have a ton of range at this age are a risk of seeing their range become unplayable at shortstop as they get older and fill out.*
* I will add the caveat that I haven't seen Profar, and am talking generalities about players like him when I'm discussing this. I'd be interested in hearing one of the Jasons or Jamey or someone offer their thoughts on Profar's range, and whether they think there's a question about his ability to handle shortstop long term.
If you have a guy with no elite tools who is going to have to move off of shortstop, then it seems like you are looking at someone who will be a nice second baseman, or third baseman, or maybe a centerfielder, but not great, a guy with baseball smarts who won't have any glaring weakness, but also isn't going to have a bunch of strengths.
In other words, as I type this, he's starting to sound like someone whose realistic best-case projection is the infield version of David DeJesus.
And that has value. I don't mean to minimize that. And Profar, like a lot of these "polished" types, is more likely to hit his projection that someone like Beltre.
But does it make sense to have a 17 year old, who is probably four years away (at least), and who you are hoping turns into a solid major league regular, as your #1 prospect?
Particularly ahead of someone like Martin Perez?
I could be wrong. Profar has generated a lot of buzz, and I was accused of being overly dismissive of him back in 2009 when the hype started to build.
But I'm just wondering if we're confusing "very young prospect" with "high ceiling."