John Blake, the executive vice president of communications for the Texas Rangers, announced tonight on his personal Twitter feed that shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar will join up with Team Netherlands for the four-team, single-elimination Championship Round of the World Baseball Classic.
Profar stayed back in Rangers camp when the 2013 WBC began because he wanted to focus on winning a spot on the Opening Day roster. It didn’t help that Netherlands has had to play its games in Asia.
But now that there’s a real shot at the title, Profar has decided — with the encouragement of Rangers manager Ron Washington — to head to San Francisco. That’s where the four finalists will face off in a true semifinal. Profar is batting .222 with a .654 OPS in the Cactus League, and the Rangers are probably thinking that a change of scenery might help his psyche.
Widely considered the best prospect in baseball, Profar hit .281/.368/.452 with 14 home runs, 62 RBI and 16 stolen bases over 126 games last year at Double-A. He is also a strong defender at shortstop and could certainly have an impact on the remaining games of this tournament. The 20-year-old is a native of Curacao, an island off the coast of Venezuela. It’s a constituent country of the Netherlands.
1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.
Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:
“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’
Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.
I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.
The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.
Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.
Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:
It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”
At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.
I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .