Texas Rangers

Profar returns to Rangers, but future still uncertain

Jurickson Profar has concentrated on keeping his eyes on the prize during his time at Triple A Round Rock.
Jurickson Profar has concentrated on keeping his eyes on the prize during his time at Triple A Round Rock. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

The top prospect in baseball four years ago has seen his career devolve from future All-Star for the Texas Rangers to fill-in for their All-Stars.

When Adrian Beltre sprained his left ankle in early June, Jurickson Profar was summoned from Triple A Round Rock just in case Beltre needed some time. Profar was sent down three days later.

When Elvis Andrus hopped on the 72-hour paternity list Wednesday, Profar again made the commute from Central Texas to keep Andrus’ seat warm.

Such a circumstance, a major league-caliber player trapped inside a Triple A uniform, would seem to be enough to defeat anyone who believes he should be a regular in the major leagues but sees his path to everyday playing time blocked by two players who have 11 years of contract left between them.

“It is what it is,” Profar said. “If you think about it, it’s going to be tougher. But I just go out there and play and try to play well.”

But then Profar explains what it is, and it’s not at all what it is.

This experience in some ways is a boon for him, as he learns more about himself as he deals with the trials of an uncertain future.

He can’t get frustrated, he said, because doing so takes his eyes off the prize. Besides, he loves to play baseball every day and is getting that chance, albeit in the minor leagues.

And he is getting better, not just on the field but between the ears. Already thought to be an instinctual player, the 24-year-old is building mental toughness to go along with his instincts.

“I was doing great in Triple A playing, and that’s what makes me happy,” said Profar, who was batting .303 with 22 doubles at Round Rock. “It’s how I handle the situation, and it’s tough. It can break a player. You work hard to be a major-league player and if you don’t find yourself there, it can get worse.

“So, I went there and played hard every day, and I think everything is going to take care of itself.”

The Rangers know what he can do, and he was ticketed to be the starting second baseman in 2014 before a shoulder injury forced him to miss two seasons. They saw glimpses of his skills last year as he stepped in for Rougned Odor as he served his seven-game suspension for punching Jose Bautista, and he was so good that he continued to play after Odor returned.

Profar starred in the World Baseball Classic for the Kingdom of the Netherlands and made the Opening Day roster as one of three players with a chance to take the reins in left field.

“Profar showed us a lot last year when he first came up,” manager Jeff Banister said. “We’ve seen when Pro’s playing well and swinging the bat well what it looks like. I’m proud of Pro in going down and staying engaged. These type of situations for guys when they bounce back and forth can be extremely challenging.”

Profar didn’t seize his opportunity in left field because of plate woes that he wasn’t given the opportunity to hit his way out of, and he was shuttled to Round Rock so that he could play every day rather than gather rust on the Rangers’ bench.

He’s been on the I-35 shuttle since, and might be as long as Andrus, Odor and Beltre are on the roster. If Profar wants regular playing time in the majors, it likely will have to come with another team.

Profar continues to generate interest from other clubs and might help the Rangers find relief help.

“If he wants to play every day right now, it’s probably best,” Beltre said. “But in baseball, you never know.”

Profar, who is still only 24, could stay with the Rangers through the All-Star break and even open the second half with them. If they want to make a dedicated push before the July 31 deadline, they might decide to do so with their 12 or 13 best position players.

Profar is in that group.

“There’s no doubt he’s got the talent to be up here,” Beltre said.

Profar doesn’t doubt that either. He’s just stuck in a situation that might frustrate another player and might only be alleviated by a trade.

It is what it is.

“It helps me mentally knowing myself every day and to keep battling. That’s who I am,” Profar said. “I’m just going to play hard every day and try to learn everything about myself to stay consistent. I can’t control the other things that happen.”