Rangers phenom Jurickson Profar gets first start at third

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Jurickson Profar, who showed off his power with a home run in Sunday’s Futures Game, is sliding from shortstop to third base for the first time as a pro for Double-A Frisco tonight.

It’s a bit curious; not only do the Rangers already have a top-flight third baseman in Adrian Beltre, but they also have an excellent third-base prospect in Mike Olt playing side-by-side with Profar at Frisco.

However, Olt is currently sidelined with a bruised left hand, according to Frisco announcer Alex Vispoli, opening up third for Profar.

It’s not completely new for Profar to be taken off shortstop; he’s also played 12 games at second base this year. The Rangers still aren’t sure how things are going to play out for the long haul, given that they have All-Stars at second base, third base and shortstop. Profar certainly has the glove to stay at short, though he may never be quite as smooth as Elvis Andrus there.

Fortunately, the Rangers aren’t going to be rushed into any decisions. As talented as Profar is — most regard him as the top position prospect in the minors — he’s still not likely to be ready before the second half of 2013 and possibly not until 2014. The Rangers could have a tough call to make then, though. They currently have Andrus under control through 2014, Beltre through 2015 and Ian Kinsler through 2017.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves