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.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.