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.
The Tampa Bay Rays were reported this week to be “open for business” as far as trades go. Normally that means nothing happens until late June or something. The Rays are getting right down to it, though, as they’ve just traded closer Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span to the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners, who have played some outstanding ball lately thanks to some outstanding starting pitching, and are looking to bolster other areas as they make a push in the AL West, will likely slot Colome into a setup role in front of closer Edwin Diaz. Span will take over center field, allowing Dee Gordon to, eventually anyway, once he recovers from a fractured toe, cover for the suspended Robinson Cano at second base. If the M’s make the playoffs he’d likely do so in the postseason too, given that Cano will be ineligible for any October play due to his suspension.
Colome has saved 11 games for the Rays, with a 4.15 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 23/8 in 21.2 innings.Span is hitting .238/.364/.385 with four homers and six stolen bases on the season.
Two players are going back to the Rays: righties Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero. Moore was the Mariners’ second round pick in 2015 and made his big league debut last season, pitching 59 innings in 2018 but back in the minors so far in 2018. Romero was a 15th rounder for Seattle in 2017 and is currently plying his trade in A-ball.
The Rays, as expected, are using the 2018 season to acquire prospects. The Mariners, who are unexpectedly strong in the early going, are trying to go for it even harder. Quite a big trade for late May.