In three years scouting prospects, the instances in which a highly touted prospect is even better than advertised are few and far between. In the case of Texas Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar, I arrived in Greenville expecting to see a talented, but maybe not elite shortstop prospect and left with a firm belief Profar was the best true shortstop prospect in all of baseball.
As a person who’s much more conservative in my approach to scouting than political leanings, the terms “elite”, “franchise”, “all-star”, “gold glove” rarely find their way into my scouting reports. In actuality, most critiques thrown my way involve my being too critical. In the case of Jurickson Profar, I’ve scoured my notes and video to identify problem areas in his all-around game, but I simply can’t find any. At present, the young shortstop is as complete a position prospect as one could hope to find at any level of the minor leagues.
Video after the Jump
From a physical standpoint, one could not find a better body type than Profar’s when considering a shortstop prospect. Yes, Profar is lean, but he has the frame of a player who could gain an additional 20 pounds or so while maintaining his agility. With teen shortstop prospects, I always look for lower half development, or lack thereof when projecting a a player’s ability to remain at the position long term. With Profar, no red flags are apparent which would lead me to believe a move off of the position just isn’t in the cards.
Additionally, his present strength in relation to his frame is excellent and allows for explosive movements both offensively and defensively. With additional strength gained through physical maturity and a solid training regimen, he should become even stronger.
Offensively, Profar’s swing is a little “loose” in terms of extra movement pre-swing and loss of body control at times. The term “swinging out of his shoes” comes to mind on occasion and Profar should become “quieter” in the batter’s box with time. When compared to other Latin American prospects his age, the refinement needed for Profar to iron out the kinks is a fraction of what most other hitters would need. Additionally, a scouting contact put it best when he said, “I’d rather calm a max effort swing than ask a more polished hitter to swing harder. It’s easier to take away a little than ask for explosion that’s not there.”
And explosion is definitely present in Profar’s swing – especially in his wrists. With present plus bat speed bordering on elite, the young shortstop is able to generate significantly more power than one would assume given his wiry frame and perceived lack of strength. In game action, I witnessed him turn on an inside fastball for a line drive rocket foul which smacked the brick condominiums situated behind Greenville’s version of the green monster. Had the ball been a fly ball with a downward trajectory when bounding off of the building, I would have paid it only some mind. However, this particular batted ball was crushed and still rising at the time of impact.
Additionally, Profar flashed power from both sides of the plate during batting practice hitting multiple balls out of the park to left-centerfield from the right side, and using the “Green Monster” as target practice from the left side. In the same hitting group as former first round pick Jake Skole, the crack off of Profar’s bat was significantly louder than the bigger-bodied Skole. At one point, I asked a friend who took the road trip with me who was asking, “what’s so impressive about this” to just “shut up and listen”. A couple of swings was all that was necessary for him to understand the difference between so-so and special.
On defense, Profar wasn’t challenged in game action, but showed picturesque fluidity and movement in batting practice and pre-game infield. Additionally, Profar’s arm is at least well-above average, if not plus for the position allowing him to pivot off his back foot and fire lasers across the infield. The one area which may cause him to fall just short of “gold glove potential” at shortstop is his slightly above average foot speed, but Profar’s feel for the game and baseball IQ are present in all areas should only improve with additional time on the infield. If the foot speed winds up limiting his range a touch, his instincts and ability to position himself may make up the difference and then some.
On the basepaths, Profar’s in game speed is just a touch above average and may regress further with time leaving him with average foot speed at physical maturity. This is really the only area which doesn’t project as a long term strength. Once again, a high baseball IQ should allow him to maximize the speed he does have and settle in as a double-digit stolen base threat in his prime.
When projecting Profar in his prime, I can’t help but see him as a better version of White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez. With Ramirez producing back-to-back 4+ WAR seasons, the sky is really the limit for Jurickson Profar considering his on base skills should be significantly improved over Ramirez. Additionally, Ramirez’ power numbers look more impressive on paper than in reality as his huge plate appearance totals add counting numbers. Profar should produce higher wOBA totals prior to his prime years with room for more. This leaves Profar a 5-6 WAR player for me leaving him a top-4 shortstop in all of baseball.
For me, the conservative approach would be to label Jurickson Profar an above average regular with multiple all-star seasons. A more aggressive assessment would leave the Rangers shortstop a franchise player worthy of building an organization around. If not for Nationals phenom Bryce Harper, Jurickson Profar would rank as the best prospect I scouted this season.