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For The Rangers’ Jurickson Profar, The Time Is Now

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PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 27: Infielder Jurickson Profar #13 of the Texas Rangers fields the ball against the Arizona Diamondbacks during an interleague game at Chase Field on May 27, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Jurickson Profar (Photo Credit: Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

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By Rich Arleo

CBS Local Sports, in our “30 Players 30 Days” spring training feature, profiles one young player from each Major League Baseball team leading up to opening day.

Jurickson Profar, Infielder, Texas Rangers

2013 season (minors): 37 G, 144 AB, .278 BA, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 6 SB, .807 OPS

2013 season (majors): 85 G, 286 AB, .234 BA, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 2 SB, .644 OPS

The Rangers entered the 2013 season with the top-ranked prospect in Jurickson Profar. But things didn’t go swimmingly for the future star infielder last year. Nonetheless, Profar is just 21-years-old going into the 2014 campaign, and the best (hopefully) is yet to come.

Signed out of Curacao in 2009 at age 16, Profar made his professional debut with the Spokane Indians in Low-A ball the next year. He was still a minor. The Rangers wasted no time moving the young infielder up the ranks. He had 12 home runs, 23 stolen bases and a .883 OPS the next season for the Single-A Hickory Crawdads. He shot up to Double-A in 2012, where he hit .281/.368/.452, and in August, at just 19, made his major league debut. Profar hit a home run in his first at-bat, further adding to the hype, though he would go just 3-for-17 in that short stint.

Profar, still only 20-years-old, started last season at Triple-A Round Rock and impressed again. He hit .278/.370/.438 in just 37 games before getting the call to the big leagues in May. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t his time to shine just yet. After managing a .367 OBP throughout his minor league career, the youngster got on base at just a .308 clip in 324 plate appearances. He was, frankly, overmatched in the majors last year, getting just 67 hits in 286 at-bats (.234 average), with 63 strikeouts with 26 walks.

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There are plenty of explanations for Profar’s major league struggles last year, not the least being his age and lack of experience. He was one of the youngest players in the big leagues and had played in just over 300 minor league games. Another reason is his undefined role. After playing mostly at shortstop in the minors, Profar was thrown all over the field last year. He started at five different positions for the Rangers; the most came at second base, but he also made at least 10 starts at shortstop, designated hitter and third base.

The Rangers showed their commitment to Profar this off-season by trading longtime second baseman Ian Kinsler. The team knew that it was time to give him his rightful spot at second, and they jumped at the chance to add Prince Fielder’s big bat in the process. This season he will get comfortable, realize some of that potential and take the league by storm.

Profar has a keen batter’s eye and an impressive power-speed combo at second base with a chance to develop into a perennial 20-20 (20 home runs and 20 steals) player. While reaching that level this season is unlikely, he can fine-tune his game and once again be the patient and dangerous hitter he was in the minors. At just 21-years-old, Profar could become one of the best players in the game for the next decade, and it might start this season.

Next up: Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels

Check out our Fantasy Baseball Preview, breaking down the top players at each position.

Rich Arleo is a Marist College alum who has been a professional writer and editor since graduating in 2010. Find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for more of his sports musings.

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