SURPRISE, Ariz. — The best prospect in the history of baseball just turned 21, and his outward appearance still looks like he is preparing for his sophomore year of high school. And this is after he put on about 15 pounds.“I’m about 190,” he says. “I’m comfortable at this.”So is his manager.“I don’t want him to be 200,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I want him to be a greyhound, not no pit bull, and certainly no boxer.”As Wash says, second baseman Jurickson Profar is “still a baby.”Whether the Rangers should have traded their prized prospect or kept him in the minors last season is no longer the issue — he’s here and he’s not going anywhere. Your expectations for Profar should be high, but this should be a long-range vision — he’s going to get there. It just will not be today.“This kid has aptitude. I don’t think you guys need to expect him to hit .300 this year,” Wash said.So when then?“I don’t know. Can he become that hitter that everybody say he is? He’s only 20. I’m willing to wait until he’s 25.”That’s not exactly what we wanted to hear, but at least it’s the truth.The best thing going for Profar, other than his own God-given ability, is that the Rangers don’t need much out of him this season. If they need him to be the best, or fifth-best, player on this team, something has gone terribly wrong.The worst thing going for Profar is that Baseball America made him the best prospect in America a couple of years ago.“It was a big honor,” he said. “It made me work harder to be what I want to be. I want to be great.”The problem was around the same time he had this label, über-young kids, such as Angels outfielder Mike Trout, were embarrassing big-league pitching. More “great prospects” are built like Profar than Trout, who looks like he was fully developed at age 4.The other worst thing going for Profar is that last season the Rangers promoted him even though he could not play every day. No kid should be asked to play a utility role, which by nature is a difficult job even for a veteran who has done it for a few years.Profar said he was not comfortable saying he was a major leaguer last season, even though he appeared in 85 games with 324 plate appearances. Just looking at those numbers makes me ill; he should have played 150 games with 555 plate appearances.He should have remained in Double A, or Triple A.Too late now. Rangers GM Jon Daniels obviously loves this guy, so ... Profar is the everyday second baseman, with some confidence.He said he is comfortable saying he is a big leaguer.“I learned a lot, and this year has helped,” he said. “I know what is going on now — what I have to do and work on, the schedule, and how to prepare myself.”His locker is in the same row with Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder. You figure via osmosis Profar will learn a few things between all of the considerable professionalism, knowledge and experience that surrounds him.Profar also does not sound intimidated, rather highly motivated. We are talking about a guy who for years has been the best player on every team he ever played on. Now he’s not.“I do want to be on that same level as Adrian, Elvis and Prince,” he said. “The thing I needed was some experience.”How he obtained “some experience” at the big-league level is not ideal, and now no longer matters because he’s here and he will be an everyday player. If he’s not going to be an everyday player, get his butt down to the minors immediately and don’t pull the utility stunt again. This kid needs to play, not sit and watch.Everything says he will get there, and he will become a productive everyday big-league player with a long career.The Rangers don’t need that to happen right away, and his manager is in no rush, so we shouldn’t be either. Follow Mac Engel on The Big Mac Blog at www.star-telegram.com/sports.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @macengelprof