Profar to play for Netherlands in the Classic

Profar to play for Netherlands in the Classic

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Jurickson Profar is getting to embark on another great international baseball adventure.

The former star of the Curacao Little League team is joining the Netherlands on Tuesday, and will fly to Korea for the first round of the World Baseball Classic.

Netherlands will be in the same pool as South Korea, Chinese Taipei and Israel. Their first game is next Tuesday against South Korea with the top two teams advancing to the second round March 11-16 in Tokyo.

"I think we are going to go over there and do well," Profar said. "We have a good team….a couple of pitchers that can hold them and a good lineup. I expect us to do good."

The strength of the Netherlands team is its infield, which includes Jonathan Schoop, Xander Bogaerts and Andrelton Simmons. All of them are regulars in the Major Leagues so Netherlands manager Hensley Muelens plans to use Profar in left field.

Profar is competing for that spot in Rangers camp against a large field that also includes Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo, Delino DeShields, Jared Hoying, Travis Snider and Cesar Puello. Profar could also make the team as a utility player because of his versatility.

But the Rangers are fine with Profar leaving camp because his experience representing Curacao in international competition over the years has helped him become the smart and savvy player that he is.

"I think it helps all of them," manager Jeff Banister said. "A lot of different situations come up that they have to handle…different spot, different team, different language, different style of baseball, a vast range in the age group. It's something that Jurickson is used too. All of that helps being a well-versed, experience player."

Profar's first experience in international competition came at 11 years old when he led Curacao to the Little League World Series title in 2004. They went back the following year but lost in the title. Since then he has traveled the world representing Curacao as well as playing two years of winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He estimated that he has played in over 20 different countries.

The ties to the Netherlands are strong. Curacao is a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Profar has many relatives living in Rotterdam. He travels to the Netherlands every offseason.

"They used to own Curacao but now we are on our own," Profar said. "But there the culture is still like the Netherlands and there are a lot of Dutch people in Curacao. I love going to the Netherlands. Europe is so different but I think it is nice and I like the cold weather too. Baseball is getting big over there."

The Netherlands has a good chance to get past the first round but, beyond that, it will have a tough time matching up against more established countries. But this will give Profar a chance to play outfield in the intense cauldron of international baseball. It should serve him well. "I'm excited," Profar said. "I always have things I'm trying to improve upon but I want to do good. This is a chance to play for my country and my friends."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.