Profar delivers heroics in return to field
In first AFL game, 22-year-old hits game-tying homer with two outs in the ninth
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jurickson Profar took another step forward Thursday in his long road back to the big leagues. Appearing in his first Arizona Fall League game, the Rangers infielder played a major role in the Surprise Saguaros' 7-6 victory over the Scottsdale Scorpions.
Profar doubled in his first at-bat and scored the game's first run in the first inning. He then struck out looking and flied out twice in his next three plate appearances before coming up again with two out in the ninth and Surprise trailing 6-5. Scottsdale right-hander Montreal Robertson (Tigers) had fanned the first two hitters before Profar launched a 3-2 sinker over the right-field fence to tie the game.
"Sure," Profar said when asked if he was thinking home run in the situation. "I don't want to lose. I hit it pretty well."
Yadiel Rivera (Brewers) gave the Saguaros the lead in the 10th inning with a two-out RBI single, and right-hander Damien Magnifico (Brewers) made it stand up by striking out two of the three hitters he faced in a perfect bottom half. Surprise now has the second-best record in the AFL at 6-2, while the Scorpions dropped to 3-4.
The game was just the 13th Profar has played in the last two seasons. Rated the best prospect in baseball by MLB.com and Baseball America before the 2013 season, he graduated to the Majors that year at age 20 and hit .234/.308/.336 with six homers in 85 games while playing a utility role. Texas traded Ian Kinsler to Detroit in November to open second base for Profar, but he tore a muscle in his throwing shoulder and missed the entire 2014 season.
Profar attempted to rehab the injury and was slated to play in the AFL last year but was unable to do so. He eventually had shoulder surgery this February and was sidelined for most of the year before DHing in nine games at low Class Hickory and three at Double-A at the end of the season.
"It has been tough," Profar said. "It's frustrating. But I'm working hard every day to put myself in the position I'm in now. I feel very good. The shoulder feels better."
Signed for $1.55 million out of Curacao in 2009, Profar is a switch-hitter who projects to hit for a high average and solid power while also possessing good speed and defensive ability at second base and shortstop. He has outstanding instincts and draws praise for his makeup. But all that won't matter if he can't stay on the diamond.
"We've got to get him healthy, get him playing, and then it's a question of how does he look in Spring Training and what's best for him, and what's best for us," Rangers GM Jon Daniels told MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. "Does he compete for a multiposition spot on the club? It's a pretty unique skill set for a manager to have -- a switch-hitter who can play in and out on both sides of the diamond.
"At the same point, he hasn't played much the last few years, so the benefit he'd get from going down and playing on a regular basis. We've got to get him healthy first -- get the clean bill of health, Fall League and throwing program -- but that will be a conversation that we will have as we get through all of that. We would shut it down after the Fall League."
The plan is for Profar to DH regularly but not play in the field for the Saguaros. While he took groundballs before Wednesday's game, he didn't make any throws across the diamond.
Profar watched a couple of AFL games from Surprise's bench before Texas reinstated him from the 60-day disabled list to the 40-man roster Wednesday morning. He said he was anxious to get into a game and believes the Fall League will aid him in his comeback.
"The pitching is good," Profar said. "A lot of the pitchers throw hard, have good breaking balls and sinkers. It will be good to compete against them.
"I just want to stay healthy and a compete. I'm a guy who likes to win. When I come to the ballpark, I'll do anything to win."