Jurickson Profar has always been a confident young man.
When the Texas Rangers signed the 16-year-old from the Caribbean island of Curaçao in 2009, Profar made a bold declaration.
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BASEBALL’S 10 BEST PROSPECTS
A consensus-ranked list of baseball’s best prospects heading into this season:
Jurickson Profar, 20 (SS, Texas): A middle infielder who can do it all. As the youngest player in the Texas League in 2012, Profar more than held his own with 14 homers, 62 RBIs, 16 steals and a .281 average. At Triple-A Round Rock.
Oscar Tavares, 20 (OF, St. Louis): Some scouts like the Puerto Rican power hitter with great plate discipline every bit as much as Profar. Tavares had 23 homers, 93 RBIs and a .324 average in the Texas League last year. At Triple-A Memphis.
Dylan Bundy, 20 (RHP, Baltimore): The Gatorade national high school player of the year at Owasso, Okla., Bundy allowed only 67 hits in 104 innings at three levels in ‘12 and even made his MLB debut at age 19. At Double-A Bowie (Md.).
Wil Myers, 22 (OF, Tampa Bay): The Rays thought enough of the former catcher to trade him for two excellent MLB-proven pitchers, James Shields and Wade Davis. Myers had 37 homers and 109 RBIs in 2012, mostly in Triple-A. At Triple-A Durham.
Jose Fernandez, 20 (RHP, Miami): The 6-2, 240-pound Cuban, who started the season at Triple-A New Orleans, already has made two dominant major-league starts, giving up 5 hits in 11 innings with 13 strikeouts. Had a 1.75 ERA last year. With the Miami Marlins.
Shelby Miller, 22 (RHP, St. Louis): Like Fernandez, the Brownwood, Texas product is making batters look foolish in the majors. He has 29 Ks in 26 big-league innings and a 1.38 ERA. With the St. Louis Cardinals.
Gerrit Cole, 22 (RHP, Pittsburgh): The former UCLA star quickly rose from Single-A to Triple-A last year, posting a 2.80 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning. At Triple-A Indianapolis.
Travis D’Arnaud, 24 (C, NY Mets): The Mets traded Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey to get this slugging catcher, who batted .333 with 52 RBIs in 67 Triple-A games last year. At Triple-A Las Vegas.
Byron Buxton, 19 (OF, Minnesota): This toolsy outfielder is batting just shy of .500 this spring, packaging speed and projectable power. At Single-A Cedar Rapids.
Miguel Sano, 19 (3B, Minnesota): The 6-3 Dominican, whose body is yet to fill out, had 28 homers and 100 RBIs as an 18-year-old in Single-A. At Single-A Fort Myers.
IT’S GOOD TO BE NO. 1
What’s happened to recent No. 1 prospects? A look at past No. 1s, according to Baseball America:
2012/2011: Bryce Harper (OF, Washington) — A Sports Illustrated coverboy as a 16-year-old (“Baseball’s LeBron”), Harper already is blossoming into a major-league star. He swatted 22 homers as a 19-year-old rookie.
2010: Jason Heyward (OF, Atlanta) — The Georgia tower of power is coming off his breakout MLB year, scoring 93 runs with 27 HRs, 82 RBIs and 21 steals.
2009: Matt Wieters (C, Baltimore) — The Georgia Tech alum has back-to-back seasons of 22 and 23 homers and is strong defensively.
2008: Jay Bruce (OF, Cincinnati) — The Beaumont West Brook grad’s first five MLB seasons produced 21, 22, 25, 32 and 34 long balls. Notice a trend?
2007: Daisuke Matsuzaka (RHP, Boston) — Dice-K went 33-15 combined in his first two big-league campaigns before shoulder problems sidetracked him.
2006: Delmon Young (OF, Philadelphia) — The 6-3, 245-pounder may have grown out of his uniform. At age 24 (2010), he had a 112-RBI season in Minnesota, then regressed.
2005-04: Joe Mauer (C, Minnesota) — Five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, three-time AL batting champion and Gold Glove winner and 2009 AL MVP.
2003: Mark Teixeira (1B, Texas): Georgia Tech product has five Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, 338 home runs and 1,101 RBIs, mostly with the Rangers and Yankees.
2002: Josh Beckett (RHP, Boston) — Spring, Texas grad has made three All-Star appearances, has a 132-97 record, a 3.90 ERA and 1,770 strikeouts.
2001: Josh Hamilton (OF, Tampa Bay) — Drug and alcohol problems knocked him out until 2007, but he’s sure made up for lost time with five All-Star Games, an AL MVP, and a batting title.
2000: Rick Ankiel (LHP, St. Louis) — Incurable wildness torpedoed his pitching career but, to his credit, Ankiel is still collecting an MLB paycheck as a reserve outfielder.
RANGERS’ TOP GUNS
2012: Yu Darvish — The 26-year-old Japanese prodigy never spent a day in the minors. The Rangers signed him after he went 76-28 with a 1.72 ERA over five years with the Nippon Ham Fighters.
2011: Martin Perez (LHP) — The little Venezuelan lefty is only 22 and still highly regarded, but he’s had 6.43 and 4.25 ERAs in Round Rock. Right now, he’s recovering from a broken right arm.
2010-09: Neftali Feliz (RHP) — The Dominican fireballer appeared headed for a great career as a closer, saving 40 games as a 22-year-old, but he blew out his elbow while re-learning how to be a starter. He’ll be back this summer in an undetermined role.
2008: Elvis Andrus (SS) — The 24-year-old Venezuelan already has made two All-Star Games. He has no power, but he can get on base and flash the leather.
2007: John Danks (LHP) — The former Round Rock Dragon appeared headed for a stellar career after the Rangers traded him to the White Sox. He won 40 games from 2008-10. But shoulder surgery has been a major setback.
2006: Edinson Volquez (RHP) — The Rangers swapped Volquez for Josh Hamilton in late 2007, a superb deal. Volquez is still kicking around in San Diego, but has only had one big year (17-6 in 2008).
2005: Thomas Diamond (RHP) — Remarkably, he’s the only bust on this list. Diamond pitched just 28 innings in the majors and had a 6.83 ERA.
2004: Adrian Gonzalez (1B) — The Rangers made one of their best-ever trades to get A-Gone from the Marlins, then one of their worst to swap him to the Padres. Four-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glover.
2003: Mark Teixeira (1B) — Speaking of incredible deals, the Rangers sent this 2001 first-round pick to the Braves for a package that included Andrus, Feliz and Matt Harrison. Grand larceny.
AND THEN … THE BUSTS
Ten premium prospects who didn’t make the grade:
Matt Bush: A shortstop picked No. 1 by the Padres in in 2004, his career bogged down in Single-A ball and he became a pitcher. Currently, he’s serving a prison sentence for running over a 72-year-old man at spring training while driving drunk (his third DUI conviction in 10 years). He’s the third overall No. 1 pick to never have made the majors.
Matt Harrington (RHP): Baseball America’s high school player of the year in 2000, he was drafted No. 7 overall by the Rockies. He did not sign. Actually, the Scott Boras client was drafted five times and didn’t sign until he took a Cubs offer in 2006. By 2007, he was out of the game. Harrington recently worked at a Costco store in California, making $11.50 per hour.
Brandon Wood (SS): The Austin native was a consensus top-10 overall prospect for three years running (2006-08) and put up staggering numbers in the minor leagues, one year hammering 43 home runs. But he could never carry it over to the big leagues, where he’s a .186 career hitter.
Joe Borchard (OF): The two-sport Stanford star pocketed a then-record signing bonus of $5.3 million to play for the White Sox. He batted .205 in six partial seasons (2002-07).
Bryan Bullington (RHP): The No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 draft had a mediocre minor league career for the Pirates and played in parts of five MLB seasons, finishing with a 1-9 record and 5.62 ERA.
Clint Everts (RHP): Teamed with Scott Kazmir in 2002 to give Houston Cypress Falls a heckuva 1-2 pitching punch. The No. 5 overall choice of the draft, by the Expos, Everts toiled for 11 years in the minor leagues, barely getting past Double-A and never appearing in the majors.
Ryan Anderson (LHP): The Little Unit, a 6-10 lefty, was compared to Randy Johnson … but only in physique. Shoulder injuries wrecked his career before it got off the ground, and he made a career swap, entered a culinary school and is pursuing a career as a chef.
Ruben Mateo (OF): A “can’t-miss, five-tool” Rangers prospect, Mateo most definitely missed, although he did play portions of six seasons in the majors, hitting .250 with a combined 21 homers and 89 RBIs.
Drew Henson (3B): Expected to produce enormous power at the hot corner for the Yankees, the former Michigan quarterback hit .248 in six minor-league seasons and had all of nine major-league at-bats. But he did start for the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, 2004.
Andy Marte (3B): Any failure list like this must include somebody with Cleveland ties. Marte was a consensus top-10 MLB prospect from 2004-06 who had a slider-speed bat and compiled a .218 average in 838 trips to the plate for the Indians and Braves.