It isn’t supposed to be easy. Playing baseball at the major league level is one of the hardest things to do in sports. It isn’t supposed to be easy, but that is exactly how Jurickson Profar made it look in his MLB debut on Sunday.
At 19 years and 195 days old, Profar made his debut at the exact same age that Bryce Harper did earlier this season. Profar slid into the lineup to replace Ian Kinsler, who was given the day off due to a stiff back. After playing just 25 games at second base in Double-A Frisco this year, Profar found himself starting at second base on the best team in the American League in just his second day in the majors.
In his first career MLB at-bat, Profar demolished an inside fastball from Zach McAllister over the right field fence for a solo home run. That home run made Profar the first Texas Rangers player to ever hit a home run in his first career at-bat, and it made him the second-youngest player in MLB history to do so. He is also the youngest player to homer in the majors since Adrian Beltre in 1998, who was just 24 days younger at the time.
It wasn’t just that Profar hit a home run in his first career at-bat, or that he also added a double in his second at-bat, or that he showed that he is also a plus defender. The results he generated in his MLB debut were just about the best results that one could ask for, but it wasn’t just about the results. It was the way that he achieved those results.
There was never a single second in this game when it looked as though the enormity of the moment was too big for Profar. At 19 years old, labeled as the best prospect in baseball, and playing for a championship caliber team, there could have been a lot of pressure put on the kid from Curacao. Yet, if you watched Profar carry himself amongst his teammates, in the field, and at the plate, you would not be able to tell. Profar himself said after the game, “I didn’t feel any pressure up there. I got a fastball and put a good swing on it. After the home run, I felt great.”
In just his first at-bat, even before he hit his home run, it was clear that it was no fluke that this 19-year old deserved to be playing at this level. He let the first pitch go by, a borderline pitch that was called a ball. Then, he ripped a screaming line drive into the seats down the right field line on pitch number two. The third offering was nowhere near the strike zone. On the fourth and final pitch, Profar unleashed every bit of his 6’0”, 165-pound frame, sending it 391 feet out to right field. He didn’t step into the batter’s box as a rookie; he stepped into the batter’s box in complete control of the at-bat from pitch one through the home run.
Profar carries himself with confidence. It is not a cocky, overstated confidence, but a quiet, meaningful swagger that communicates that he knows exactly what he is doing and that he is going to be very good at it. It also goes beyond just that though, there is something else, which can only be described as joy. It is obvious that Profar loves playing baseball in every way. His smile is omnipresent, from when he is striding to the plate to making plays in the field to chatting with teammates in the dugout. It was a true pleasure to witness this very special game from a very special player.
This was just one game for Profar, and he did a lot of great things in it that point to great things to come. There is still no guarantee that he is going to have a huge impact on the 2012 season for the Rangers. According to Ron Washington, today’s performance won’t necessarily mean more playing time for the youngster this season. That is Washington’s prerogative, certainly, but if Profar can continue to play in the same manner as he did today, it will be nothing but a treat for baseball fans to watch. This is a game that is meant to be played at a high level, with swagger, and joy, and that’s exactly how he played it.
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