Jurickson Profar of the Texas Rangers entered 2013 as the top prospect in baseball. Used as a super-utility player by the Rangers, he hit just .234/.308/.336 in 324 plate appearances. Overall he was a replacement-level performer this year: Fangraphs gave him a -0.4 overall fWAR; Baseball Reference gives him a 0.1 WAR. Either way, not a great year statistically.
Of course, he was only 20 years old. What does the future hold?
In a chat earlier this week, ESPN's Keith Law noted that he still expects Profar to develop into a superstar, seeing him as a "star defender who hits for average, adds value on bases, maybe ends up in the 20-HR range. I still think he's a superstar."
Adam J. Morris over at LoneStarball.com noted Law's comment. Adam isn't quite as enthusiastic as Keith, although he still expects Profar to be an above-average regular.
A third opinion comes from Jeff Zimmerman at Fangraphs, who thinks Profar will develop just fine as a hitter, but may see his fantasy value limited in the long run by lack of speed. Jeff projects that "the future is bright for young Mr. Profar" but that the lack of speed could keep him from being a future Five Tool player.
So what do you guys think? I tend to optimism about Profar and I think a combination of physical maturity and a firm position will do wonders. My thinking is that he'll eventually produce in the majors what he produced in the minors: he hit .281/.368/.452 with 14 homers in the Texas League in 2012 at age 19. Once he matures, I think he'll hit very much like that at the major league level.
This is a matter of semantics, but would a .280/.360/.450 hitter with above-average second base defense be a superstar or merely above-average?
How is this for a comp: Alan Trammell.
Trammell wasn't a great hitter when he reached the majors and played regularly for the Tigers at age 20/21, but he blossomed at 22 and became one of the best players in his generation, hitting .285/.352/.415 overall with eight seasons of 10 or more homers, overall 111 wRC+. He had a better career than some Hall of Fame players and was a six-time All Star.
Another comp: Barry Larkin.
Larkin struggled offensively as late as age 23, when he posted a 76 OPS+ (even worse than Profar's 78 mark in '13), but he developed into a Hall of Famer.
Barring some sort of serious injury, I can see Profar developing along similar lines to Trammell and Larkin. At worst he should be above-average, and Law could very well be right about Profar becoming truly great. There are precedents.
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