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07/05/09 8:31 PM ET
Rangers ink five international prospects
Sardinas leads talented group, ranked as No. 6 talent
By Daniel Paulling / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Jurickson Profar and Chris Garia joined the Rangers organization on Sunday, but their connection to the Major Leagues began long before that. Andruw Jones hosts an international tournament every January in his native Curacao, which scouts say has grown into a bigger hotbed of international talent. Both Profar and Garia played in Jones' tournament. "It's a nice thing he does," said Chu Halabi, an international scout with the Rangers. "He's very interested in the kids. That kind of athlete is big for them." Jones deflects praise about hosting the tournament. "It's just something I do for the kids," Jones said. "It's before the regular season so it helps them get ready. The winners get prizes." In addition to Profar and Garia, the Rangers also signed shortstop Luis Mendez from Venezuela, shortstop Luis Sardinas from Venezuela and left-handed pitcher Daniel De la Torre from Mexico. Baseball America ranked Sardinas as the No. 6 talent among international players who became eligible to sign after the July 2 deadline. Sardinas is projected to remain at shortstop because of his good hands and range. He ran a 6.83 60-yard dash in a mid-June Perfect Game National Showcase, but some scouts say his time has been as fast as 6.6 seconds. "He's a plus runner," said A.J. Preller, the Rangers director of professional and international scouting. "He's a true shortstop. We're excited to have him in the mix." Profar was ranked No. 15 by Baseball America. "Jurickson is a shortstop," Preller said. "A lot of other teams had him as a pitcher, but we see him as a shortstop." And Profar's happy with that. "I like playing," Profar said. "I don't like sitting on the bench for four days [the time between starts]. I like to play every day." As a 16-year-old, Profar's fastball has touched 92 mph, and he features a solid curveball. In the 2004 Little League World Series tournament, Profar threw six shutout innings in a 4-0 victory over Mexico in the international championship game. He followed that performance by going 2-for-3 with a home run as Curacao clinched the Little League World Series championship game, 5-2, over California. Profar pitched six shutout innings in the international championship game over Japan the next year. Curacao lost the championship game that season. Manager Ron Washington threw batting practice to Profar and Garia on Sunday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, but it wasn't his first experience with the former. "I met him last year when I was in the Dominican in January," Washington said. "He said he wanted to be a Ranger. You're going to see him in Texas. He's a talent -- good hands, good bat. He's got a good idea of how to play baseball for a 16-year-old." Garia had the opportunity to represent Curacao in sprint competitions but suffered a hamstring injury four months ago. He now focuses only on baseball because of his love of the sport. Both Profar and Garia are expected to join the Dominican Rangers, whose season begins July 10. "This is a continuation of our philosophy to add the best available talent from all arenas to our development system," said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. "I appreciate the commitment from ownership that's allowed our people to be aggressive in all facets of amateur acquisition. We believe it will aid in the success of our Major League club for years to come."
Daniel Paulling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.