By this point we all know the dilemma the Texas Rangers are faced with heading into this season.
They have the top prospect in all of baseball, now-20-year-old shortstop Jurickson Profar, who famously homered in his first big-league at-bat last September and turned down a chance to play for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic so he can be with the Rangers throughout spring training and try to earn a spot on the big-league roster.
The Rangers absolutely love this kid, and it's easy to see why. But it's also pretty easy to see why he's not a shoo-in to be on the Rangers' Opening Day roster as he's blocked in the bigs by shortstop Elvis Andrus and second baseman Ian Kinsler.
Earlier in the offseason, there was talk that Ian Kinsler would move from second base to either first base or the outfield to accommodate Profar's quick ascension to big-league stardom. That talk is now dead, at least for the time being.
On Friday, Rangers team president Nolan Ryan gathered with assembled media prior to the Rangers' Cactus League debut in Surprise, Ariz., and put out his idea of what it would take for Profar to be in the bigs for the entire 2013 season. His best guess? Three-hundred and fifty at-bats.
Otherwise, Ryan said, the uber-prospect would start the season in Triple-A Round Rock and be there for the time being — the plan originally laid out by Rangers general manager Jon Daniels before he waffled on the idea saying Profar would compete for a roster spot and those would be awarded to the 25 best players in camp.
"If we can't get him the at-bats that I think are appropriate for his development, then we'd probably be doing him a disservice to have him as a utility guy, and not getting the at-bats and opportunity to play every day," Ryan told reporters on Friday. "He's on the verge of being an everyday ballplayer in the big leagues is the way I view him, so to continue toward that development, I would think a minimum of 350 [at-bats] or more."
Barring injury there's just no way Profar would get that many at-bats at second or short, unless Kinsler changes positions, after all, or Elvis Andrus is moved in a blockbuster deal that won't happen this late in the game. Andrus is a free agent following the 2014 season and will likely be really tough to re-sign, but now is not the time to trade a superstar.
It seems like a sure bet Profar will start the season in Triple-A and be an everyday player, which ultimately will be better for his development as he's never seen a pitch Triple-A after spending last year at Double-A Frisco before being called up in September.