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Monday, January 7, 2013
Should Jurickson Profar start 2013 in AAA?

By Richard Durrett

Texas Ranger fans got a chance to see a glimpse of highly-acclaimed prospect Jurickson Profar in September of last year. He sure set the bar high in his first game, didn't he?

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Profar's first MLB start was a memorable one. He became just the third teenager to homer in his first career major league at-bat, hitting a long ball off Cleveland starter Zach McAllister. He also doubled in the game, becoming the youngest player since Andruw Jones in 1996 to hit a homer and a double in his first game.

Overall, Profar got just 17 at-bats in the big leagues and just three hits. He played in all or parts of nine games. It was only a taste of the big leagues and designed to give Profar a chance to see what life was like in the majors.

But assuming the Rangers don't trade Elvis Andrus, the club has a choice to make. They could slide Ian Kinsler over to first base and plug Profar in at second and play him every day. Or Profar could be a utility guy on this team. But there seems to be a preference for getting Profar as much playing time as possible.

What if that's at Triple-A Round Rock?

Texas could leave Mitch Moreland as the primary first baseman, keep Kinsler at second, Adrian Beltre is locked in at third, of course, and Andrus at short. Profar could ease into the season in Round Rock and be ready to come up to the big leagues when needed.

That has advantages. One is taking the pressure off Profar early in the season and allow him to get a bit comfortable, even if it sure seems like nothing much bothers him. The second is how it relates to his service time. Profar accumulated 33 days of service time for his short stint in the big leagues last year. A player needs 172 days to earn a full year of service time. To put that in perspective, an average MLB season is 183 days. So he needs 139 days to get up to his first full year. If he stays in the minors for about 1 1/2 months, he wouldn't be able to reach that first year of time in 2013, which would slow his clock toward free agency, etc.

His "clock" isn't a reason to not start him in the big leagues. If the Rangers believe he's ready and there's moves that make sense for them, I don't believe service time will impact them (you think the Angels wish they had kept Mike Trout in the big leagues to start 2012?). But at this point, they have an infield that is full. With the signing of Lance Berkman, the DH spot isn't one that can be used to rotate guys in as often, either, further limiting some at-bats. That doesn't impact Profar specifically, but if Kinsler were to move to first, how many at-bats does Moreland get? What do you do with Mike Olt?

Profar needs to play. If the minors is the place where he can do that to start the season, Round Rock makes sense to me. But we'll see.

Where do you think Profar should start the 2013 season?