Profar debuts with Rox, reconnects with mentor Meulens

April 2nd, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- has found a new home with the Rockies. He happened to join them at his old professional home, Petco Park, where he was a key figure in the Padres lineup in recent years.

But what’s giving Profar his warmest feeling of home is reuniting with an influential figure from his home country of Curacao, Rockies hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens.

“He invited me to his camp … I was 11,” Profar said with a massive smile.

Profar was atop the lineup Sunday afternoon in his Rockies debut. He started in left field after joining the team midgame on Saturday night, following a few extra days in Arizona to get extra swings in. Profar got a late start to Spring Training after playing in the World Baseball Classic and then signing a one-year, $7.75 million deal in late March.

Profar's presence with the Rockies is, in part, due to a long association with Meulens, who became the team's hitting coach over the winter.

Meulens runs a couple of foundations for baseball development in his homeland and heard of Profar when the youngster was a Little League force. Profar represented Curacao in the Little League World Series in 2004 (when Curacao won) and 2005.

“He played in the Little League World Series and won it -- him and Jonathan Schoop,” Meulens said. “His name started to pop up. I started to come see him. His parents obviously approached me for advice.

“He was a great pitcher. When he was 16, he threw 91 already. I advised him to sign as a pitcher. He said, ‘No, I want to play shortstop.’ I said, ‘Whatever you want.’ He was a great athlete.”

Meulens kept tabs on Profar throughout a career that saw him deal with a shoulder problem that affected multiple seasons, and his moves -- from Yankees super prospect to the Rangers (2012-13, ’16-18), Athletics (2019) and Padres (2020-22).

There was a period where Profar struggled with throwing confidence while playing shortstop, but he worked past that. Profar managed a .331 on-base percentage and 111 OPS+ last season -- 100 is MLB average.

As a big leaguer, Profar connected further with Meulens by helping him with his camps for young players back home.

Meulens managed Profar with the Netherlands in this year’s World Baseball Classic, just as he did in the 2013 and ’17 tournaments. Profar said there wasn’t much time for recruiting to the Rockies during the tournament last month because “every game is a must-win game.” It was during the winter, after Meulens accepted the Rockies job, that the biggest volume of courting took place.

“I have a facility at home, where he came and hit every day with some of the other guys,” Meulens said. “We’d talk and he said, ‘You guys are in the mix.’ And I’d say, ‘It’s a good place to hit. I don’t know what you’re waiting on.’ It took a while, but we finally got him.”