There’s a reason that the Kingdom of the Netherlands included Jurickson Profar on their provisional roster for the World Baseball Classic, other than the fact that he’s baseball's top prospect.
The upstart Dutch and manager Hensley Meulens knew that the 20-year-old, as well as Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen, would join the team when they advanced to the semifinal round in San Francisco. And the addition couldn’t come at a better time, as Yurendell DeCaster was recently sidelined with plantar fasciitis.
Although Profar’s natural position is shortstop, there’s absolutely no chance that he will replace Andrelton Simmons, who has been the Dutch’s top hitter while playing his usual outstanding defense. Therefore, Jonathan Schoop, the team’s second baseman thus far, will move over to third base to accommodate Profar at the keystone.
As if they weren’t already the most exciting team to watch in the event, the addition of Profar now gives the Kingdom of the Netherlands four of the top middle-infield prospects (Simmons is no longer a prospect, technically) in baseball.
Having already qualified for the championship round, the Dutch aren’t scheduled to play again until Monday night (6 p.m. PT), when they will take on the Pool 2 winner at the Giants’ AT&T Park.
To hold everyone over until then, here several predictions for Jurickson Profar at the World Baseball Classic.
He will hit a home run in his WBC debut
Despite being one of the youngest players at every level he's passed through, Profar has always exuded confidence in high-pressure situations. From hitting a leadoff home run in the 2012 XM Futures Game to launching a no-doubt bomb in his first big league plate appearance, the 20-year-old clearly has a flair for the dramatic.
And what better time to add to his already impressive long-ball resumé than in the first World Baseball Classic game of his very promising career?
It may not happen in his first at-bat, but Jurickson Profar will jump the yard on Monday night, because, well, that’s just the sort of thing he does.
Profar's performance will improve his chances of making the Opening Day roster
The Texas Rangers couldn’t be more excited about Profar joining the Dutch squad for the World Baseball Classic. Although he’s appeared in 16 games this spring, the return of Elvis Andrus, who represented Venezuela prior to the team’s elimination, would have cut into the youngster's playing time.
Now the Rangers are in a unique position; they have the opportunity to evaluate their future shortstop in a playoff-like atmosphere against advanced competition. And if Profar thrives as expected, he may force the organization to find room for him in its Opening Day lineup.
Profar and Simmons will turn a highlight-reel double play
After registering a UZR/150 of 31.6 last season, there’s no question that Andrelton Simmons is the top defensive shortstop in the major leagues. Plus, have you watched the guy? He’s unreal.
That being said, Profar is also an outstanding and versatile defender. Although he’s played second base in only 30 professional games over the last three seasons, expect the Curacao-native to look like a natural at the position.
More importantly, the stage has been set for Simmons and Profar to turn a jaw-dropping double play. Both players have the athleticism, instincts and skill set necessary to execute highlight-reel plays on a nightly basis. So, when they finally take the field on Monday night, expect them to each flash some serious leather. And when they ultimately turn that double play, I assure you, it will be legendary.
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