Tio Daou Ballpark, Curaçao — The baseball world was rocked on Wednesday night with the news that the Tigers and Rangers had finalized a blockbuster trade, swapping Detroit first baseman Prince Fielder and Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler. The deal has far-reaching repercussions from the Motor City to Big D to Curaçao, the small island off the coast of Venezuela that’s home to several current MLB players, including the Rangers’ top prospect, 20-year old phenom Jurickson Profar.
“It’s sad for the team, but also it’s a good chance for me to play every day,” Profar said about the trade in an exclusive interview at Tiao Daou Ballpark in Curaçao. “Obviously it’s sad for the team. He was a great guy for us. A leader, a good teammate. It’s a sad loss.”
Profar returned home to Curaçao this week for the first annual Curaçao Baseball Week — along with Atlanta Braves’ Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons, 10-time Gold Glove winner Andruw Jones, Japan Home Run King Wladimir “Coco” Balentien, Diamondbacks’ shortstop Didi Gregorius, Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen and several others — where he’s been just one of the guys. But with the deal to move Kinsler out of Texas, things are about to change. Though Profar hit just .234/.308/.336 in 85 games with the Rangers in 2013, he’s still widely regarded as the best prospect in baseball and should benefit from an everyday playing role.
Shipping the popular Kinsler to Detroit opens up second base for the confident kid who has played the majority of his professional career at shortstop — a spot occupied for at least the next eight years by Elvis Andrus. How good does Profar think the new double play combination will be?
“Good,” Profar said, while smiling and laughing as he autographed baseballs in the dugout. “The best.”
Besides giving him the opportunity to play second base every day, Profar knows that having Fielder in the lineup adds some much-needed pop to a Rangers lineup that sorely missed Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz last season.
“He’s a good hitter, a power hitter,” Profar said of Fielder. “I don’t know him or what kind of person he is, but I’ve seen him play and he seems cool.”
Photos via Amanda Rykoff and USA Today Sports