Editor's Note: We'll spend the next two weeks taking a look at 10 questions that face the Texas Rangers this offseason as they prepare for the 2013 campaign. We call it our "Texas Ten."
Today's question: Should Jurickson Profar play every day?
He's the No. 1 prospect in the system -- and the No. 1 prospect in the country, according to several publications -- and the Rangers must decide if he's ready to shed that label and become a young major leaguer.
Profar came up in September to get a taste of the big leagues and the 19-year-old made an immediate impression. He homered in his first at-bat on Sept. 2, becoming just the third teenager to hit his first career home run in his first career big league at-bat since 1876 and the youngest to do it in the AL. He was the first player born in 1993 to play in the majors and the first teenager to play for the Rangers since Ivan Rodriguez in 1991.
Profar also doubled in that first game, becoming the first teenager with two extra-base hits in his first MLB game since 1958. So his debut was quite the feat.
With the Rangers trying to hang onto a division lead (you know how that ended), manager Ron Washington went with his regulars a bunch, so Profar ended up in just nine games. He got 17 at-bats and had just three hits -- so only one after his debut. But that's a small sample size and the playing time was sporadic.
Profar hit .281 with 26 doubles, seven triples, 14 home runs, 62 RBIs, 76 runs scored and 16 stolen bases in 126 games with the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders in 2012. He showed talent defensively and an ability to drive the ball to the gaps. He's got speed and isn't afraid to use it.
The club has had to make this kind of decision before. Texas decided to make Elvis Andrus the starting shortstop in 2009 despite the fact that he'd never played above Double-A. Andrus hit better in Frisco -- .285 -- and had 10 fewer homers and three more RBIs. Of course, Andrus had way more stolen bases, too. But the Rangers felt Andrus had the potential to start for them for a long time and wanted him to get the experience in 2009 as the club was growing and beginning to show signs of being a competitive team.
The difference for Profar is that the club is competitive now. Making him a starter in 2013 also complicates how the rest of the infield -- and outfield, for that matter -- shakes out. The team could try to trade Andrus, something we discussed last week, or possibly move Ian Kinsler to the outfield and put Profar at second base.
The other option is to start Profar in the minors again and see how it goes. But as high as scouts are on Profar, I think it's going to be tempting to see what Profar can do given a chance to play every day. He could be a spark at the top or very bottom of the order, depending on how Washington wants to use him, and he could give the club some flexibility in the future with Andrus' contract expiring in two years.
I want to see what the guy can do and I think Kinsler could play the outfield if Andrus is still here. But perhaps that's more my curiosity than anything else. Still, I'm not sure what more Profar can do in the minors. Let's see what he's got in the big leagues, even though that requires some ripple effects.
What do you think? Should Profar be given an everyday role in 2013? Or should he start in the minors and then come up at some point?