Who Ya Got? Jurickson Profar vs. Lewis Brinson

Who Ya Got? Jurickson Profar vs. Lewis Brinson

A pair of Rangers positional standouts donned Saguaros unis for the 2015 Arizona Fall League (AFL) season, each of whom has shown, in the past and present, the talent to emerge in the near future as a force in Arlington. After a torn labrum caused Jurickson Profar to miss almost two full seasons’ worth of major and minor league games, the former top prospect impressed evaluators this fall with his bat in designated hitter duties for Surprise.  Lewis Brinson had a breakout summer that placed him among the top positional prospects in the minors by the conclusion of the 2015 season, raking his way through High-A High Desert and Double-A Frisco before finishing the year with a few dozen loud at bats for Triple-A Round Rock. He followed up his impactful 2015 showing with a brief AFL stint that was impressive enough to solidify his sky-high stock among the industry’s scouting ranks.

2080 Baseball’s Michael Tepid has an intimate feel for, and years of experience with, each of these standouts. He has provided below some background information to help frame today’s debate around this intriguing interrogatory for you, the reader, and the rest of our 2080 staff: Who will have the better major league career, Jurickson Profar or Lewis Brinson?

Jurickson Profar, 2B/SS, Rangers

Jurickson Profar, 2B/SS, Rangers (MLB)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/200 | B/T: S/R | Age (as of 12/1/15): 22y10m
If you are a prospect enthusiast there’s next to zero chance you’re reading this without any knowledge of Jurickson Profar, so it’s probably just better I bring the non-Rangers audience up to speed on the recent developments surrounding our little switch-hitting Curacaoan. The shoulder was really messed up. I mean, it really was. He hasn’t played a big league game in two seasons. Don’t let anyone tell you they know how his shoulder is gonna bounce back, because the real answer is that no one knows for sure. I spoke with Jurickson often towards the end of the 2015 season (he was working out daily at Double-A Frisco) and he’s the only person who’ll tell you with 100% certainty of a 100% return to form. I imagine he’ll spend at least the first couple/few months of 2016 at Triple-A Round Rock – hopefully on the left side of the infield and hopefully playing everyday.

He suited up the latter part of 2015 in the minors, but only as a designated hitter. Same thing for his stint in the AFL. He takes grounders, but hasn’t thrown across a diamond pain free in a long time. Any time Jurickson’s absorbing fungo-smacked beans, he still shows the baby soft hands of a potential plus fielder. And he can still really hit. And he still hits from both sides. And he’s still only 22 years old. He’s a wildly driven dude with a relaxed personality matched to an Oscar-caliber smile, but everything about Pro’s future comes back to the health of his shoulder. If the shoulder doesn’t hold up? Like many other prospects before him, I won’t be alone in wondering what could’ve been. If the shoulder comes back? He’s back to the everyday starter that he was projected to be before all the injury noise – a big league regular at shortstop, third base, or the keystone that gives the Rangers not only some infield options, but a logjam of healthy players.

Lewis Brinson, OF, Rangers

Lewis Brinson, OF, Rangers (Double-A)
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/170 | B/T: R/R | Age (as of 12/1/15): 21y7m
Lewis Brinson had a helluva season in 2015. I mean, seriously – over the past two summers kid cut his K-rate down from “eeeek” to “I can live with that,” all while continuing to flash the unique power/speed combo that makes everyone’s prospect hairs stand straight up.

Something that many outside of Rangers fandom might not be aware of is how good of a kid Lewis is. The more I watched him, read about him, talked about him with others (inside and outside of the organization), the more I spoke with Lewis himself, the more I believed that some small mechanical adjustments to improve his set-up and swing trigger were paying off. It takes a smart, conscientious kid to make the adjustments (certainly at the plate) that Lewis has, and he deserves credit for them.

Did I mention he’s a center fielder who might hit 15 to 20 bombs and steal 20-plus bases while playing Gold Glove caliber defense? He’s that toolsy. Not sure he’ll ever be a guy who’s gonna threaten .315, but he might get to .280 with the aforementioned mojo in the other facets of the game. I’ve heard Devon White, Kevin Pillar, and Mike Cameron comps from scouts. Lewis is 21 years old, shaped like a 6-foot-5, 205-pound gazelle, and has all the talent and makeup in the world. I imagine he gets his first big league camp invite in February, at which point he starts his campaign for Rangers’ center fielder for the next decade to come. And let me tell you, if he can continue ticking-up his hit tool a bit, it’s gonna be a fantastic run.

So with that said, who ya got? –Michael Tepid

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