Profar, Olt showcase skills in Futures Game
Top prospects waiting for chance behind Rangers' All-Stars
KANSAS CITY -- Top Rangers prospects Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar played in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.Double-A Frisco manager Steve Buechele, who was there watching the Rangers' infield prospects, said they could be playing at a higher level if there was a need in Arlington. "Both of these guys, if you stuck them on a big league field right now, they won't embarrass themselves and they wouldn't be scared," said Buechele, who served as a coach for the World team. Profar, a native of Curacao who was playing for the World team, didn't look scared Sunday on a big league field. He hit the fourth pitch he saw from Royals pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi into the right-field bleachers for a first-inning home run in the United States' 17-5 victory at Kauffman Stadium.
Profar also had a single in the third inning to finish 2-for-3. Olt was 1-for-5 for the United States with an RBI double off the center-field wall in the sixth."It was fun," Profar said. "That's what I expected, come here and have fun. I hit a home run. It was great." This is was only a one-day stop for both on a big league field. On Monday, both will be back in the Minor Leagues. The Major League All-Star Game will be held at Kauffman Stadium and the Rangers will be represented by eight players, including four infielders. Third baseman Adrian Beltre, shortstop Elvis Andrus and second baseman Ian Kinsler will be here. So will Mike Napoli, who is the American League starting catcher but has started 22 games at first base during the season. That the Rangers can assemble their own All-Star infield would suggest that Profar and Olt aren't going to stepping on a big league field again anytime soon. "I just go play the game wherever I'm at," Profar said. "I don't worry about that. I don't worry about anything I can't control." The Rangers, who are in first place in the American League West, have been known to make big trades before the July 31 Trade Deadline and other clubs would love either Profar or Olt. But Rangers general manager Jon Daniels made it clear that's not going to happen. When Olt and Profar make their Major League debut, it will almost certainly be with the Rangers. It's just uncertain when that will be. "Everything will work out in time," Olt said. "It's just good to be in an organization that has such talent. I can't think about that other stuff." Olt, ranked 34th on MLB.com's list of Top 100 Prospects, is primarily a third baseman but has played eight games at first base and one in right field at Frisco. He played both third and first base on Sunday. The Rangers put him in the outfield to increase his versatility, but they aren't overly worried about his defense. Olt's value to the Rangers is his offensive power. With Napoli and Josh Hamilton eligible for free agency after this season and Nelson Cruz and Michael Young eligible after 2013, the Rangers could take a potential big hit to the middle of their lineup over the next two years. The Rangers are counting on Olt being one of those who soften the blow no matter what position he plays. In 77 games at Frisco, Olt is hitting .294 with 22 home runs, 63 RBIs, a .404 on-base percentage and a .578 slugging percentage. "It has gone well," Olt said. "I've made a lot of adjustments. Once I did that and trusted them, it has gone well and I want to keep that feeling. I'm just reading pitches better, having a better game plan going into the game and adjusting as the game has gone on. This is really the first time I've taken a good look at what the pitchers are doing." Olt is not a finished product. He still has 81 strikeouts in 289 at-bats and sometimes has trouble catching up to a good fastball when his swing gets too long. "I think he could be a little more aggressive in some hitters counts and take advantage of mistakes by the pitcher," Buechele said. "At times, he can be too selective. A lot of time that's what you want a young player to be, but I'd like to see him more aggressive." Profar is 4 1/2 years younger than Olt but is the higher-rated prospect. He is No. 4 on MLB.com's 100 prospect list as scouts and front-office officials marvel at the all-around polish of his game. Profar, 19, is hitting .292 in 80 games at Frisco with 53 runs scored, 19 doubles, six triples, nine home runs and 39 RBIs. He has nine stolen bases, a .370 on-base percentage and a .476 slugging percentage. "As polished as it is, it could still be shined up a little more," Buechele said. "I don't mean that in a bad sense. There's always room for improvement. You see little things, but he takes instruction really well to go with his talent. But 19-year-old kids don't come more talented than him." Profar has played both short and second base for Frisco, two positions that are covered in Arlington. Andrus is signed through 2015 while Kinsler is signed through 2017. One option discussed is Kinsler eventually moving to the outfield but that's not going to happen anytime soon. At this point, Profar has to wait, but the Rangers expect the wait to be worth it, both for him and Olt. "Those guys are at the top in the organization as far as prospects," Rangers farm director Tim Purpura said. "They work incredibly hard and are incredibly gifted. The thing that stands out about both is how much they love to play. Some day they will fit in well in Arlington."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.