September 26th, 2011
You know a player is good when he plays two levels below the team you cover and there’s a steady buzz about him all season long. That’s the case with Hickory shortstop Jurickson Profar.
It was announced today that the 18-year-old was named the Low-A Player of the Year by Baseball America after hitting .286 with 12 home runs and 65 runs batted in. At such a young age, it’s impressive to note that Profar walked 65 times compared to striking out 63 times. If you take a look at the ‘Riders during the 2011 season, there wasn’t a single Frisco hitter with even 150 at-bats that had more walks than strikeouts. The only guy who came close was Leonys Martin who walked 15 times compared to eight K’s in 135 at bats.
Defensively, Profar impressed as well. In 114 games, all at shortstop, he committed just 22 errors giving him a .955 fielding percentage. If you take a look at Elvis Andrus when he was 18-year-old and playing in the minors, the now Rangers’ shortstop had a combined .949 fielding percentage at the High-A level (Myrtle Beach and Bakersfield).
Think about that for a second. We’re all impressed that Profar played as well as he did in Low-A at 18, but Andrus played at a level higher at the same age. To be completely fair about the comparison (not that this is a fool-proof form of judgement), Elvis managed a .938 fielding percentage in Low-A Rome in the Braves’ system at the young age of 17.
I’ve been surprised countless times, but I’d have to imagine that Profar opens up 2012 with High-A Myrtle Beach, which of course means that there’s a chance he makes his way to Frisco late in the season. I don’t think it would shock anyone if he stayed in the Carolina League for all of next year, but you never know what can happen.
No matter where he plays, it will be a long way from home. The switch-hitter is from Willemstad, Curacao – a tiny little island off the northern coast of Brazil. A population of slightly over 140,000, Curacao was put on the map during the 2004 Little League Baseball World Series by who else but Profar.
11-years-old at the time, Profar was the top statistical pitcher in the ’04 World Series when he went 2-0 with one save over 12.1 innings while striking out 19 studly kids. He batted .313 (5-for-16) with one double, five runs batted in, a run scored, and two strikeouts.
He also played in the 2005 Little League Baseball World Series and posted the third-highest tournament batting average of .389 (7-for-18) to go along with five runs scored and two runs batted in. On the mound he went 1-0, 1.85 ERA over 13 innings with 26 strikeouts.
And have I mentioned that he speaks four languages? Should be fun to watch Profar in Frisco … someday.
Photos provided by MiLB.com, ESPN.com, and Life.com