Spring training minor league games begin this afternoon in Surprise, Arizona. While the Texas Rangers at the major league level will have very few new names, the Rangers' affiliates will see new names on their rosters due to the natural progression of development. The headliner among minor league position players is 19-year-old shortstop Jurickson Profar and where he will play after 115 games for Low-A Hickory in 2011.
“We kind of live by the motto 'challenge the gifted’ and Jurickson certainly fits in that category,” said Rangers director of minor league operations Jake Krug during a recent edition of Rangers Magazine on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. “We keep it open-minded. Whether it’s Myrtle or Frisco, half in Myrtle … half in Frisco. It’s kind of up to Jurickson. He’s one of those guys. You really wouldn’t count anything out. Him playing in Double-A this year I know is a goal of his, and a goal of ours.”
As Profar continues his climb to Arlington, you are probably trying to figure out the major league roster when he is ready. Shortstop Elvis Andrus has three years (including 2012) left on his contract. At second base, Ian Kinsler has two years left on his deal, including a 2013 club option. Is a position change coming?
“I think there’s certainly talk of exposing him to second base in game situations,” Krug said of Profar.
This spring has seen the Rangers move a couple players around the diamond. Third baseman Mike Olt has played first base. Third baseman Tommy Mendonca is converting to catcher.
Soon the Rangers begin their quest for a third consecutive trip to the World Series, and five of the Rangers' top six minor league affiliates look to return to the playoffs. Even though the major league roster is loaded with talented players, development of minor leaguers will not slow down.
“The last thing we can do is sit back and just watch the major league team do their thing. We’ve got to get ready for the next wave,” Krug said. “Like [general manager Jon Daniels] says, you don’t want to regroup at any point, you want to reload when the time comes.”
Krug is an Arlington native who enters his 10th season working for the Rangers and his first in this role. Krug discussed the evolution of the Rangers the way he has experienced it. He talked more about Profar, the beginning of minor league camp, Mendonca as a catcher, starting pitcher depth that spills into Round Rock and Tim Purpura. Listen to the podcast.
Bryan Dolgin enters his third season as the Texas Rangers radio pre/postgame show host on the Texas Rangers ESPN Radio Network. Follow him on Twitter @RangersRadioBD.