As we noted over the weekend, when second baseman Ian Kinsler was activated from the disabled list, the Rangers decided to keep Jurickson Profar in the majors rather than send him back down to Triple-A Round Rock. The plan is to use him in a super-utility role moving forward, which will likely include some exposure to the outfield for the first time in his professional career. The transition is already underway.
Profar doesn’t figure to stick there in the long-term, but it’s a worthwhile experiment for the scuffling Rangers. The 20-year-old has never played the outfield — not even in Little League — but he’s certainly athletic enough to handle the position. If he gets comfortable, he could provide a nice upgrade over David Murphy, who just hasn’t been able to get it going this season.
Profar is batting .277/.330/.386 with two home runs and seven RBI in 22 games since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock last month.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.