3/17/2013 3:01 A.M. ET
High-powered Dutch offense looks to tame AT&T Park
By Manny Randhawa / Special to MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jurickson Profar is not afraid of AT&T Park.
When asked whether he would change his approach in a ballpark that yielded the fewest home runs during the 2012 Major League Baseball season, the Texas Rangers phenom and the newest addition to the Kingdom of the Netherlands' World Baseball Classic roster had a one-word answer: "No."
And that response is fitting for a 20-year-old who is ranked by MLB.com as the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball. He's used to hitting well regardless of venue, and he put his skill on display in his debut with the club Friday against the Seattle Mariners at their Spring Training facility in Peoria, Ariz. Profar had two hits and scored two runs to help the Dutch to an 8-1 rout as it prepared for the semifinals of the Classic.
Dutch manager Hensley Meulens, who is also the hitting coach for the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, expects nothing less from his young star in the making. Profar's leadoff single set the table for Wladimir Balentien's three-run homer in the first inning.
"That's what we expect," Meulens said. "I'm probably the happiest guy that he's here right now."
Meulens' team has shocked the baseball world by advancing past the second round, defeating powerhouse Cuba twice to get to San Francisco. And Profar, who is replacing an injured Yurendell de Caster on the roster, is probably not the only member of this team who would tell you that the ballpark by the Bay doesn't scare him.
Looking at the offensive numbers, it's easy to see why. Team Netherlands has four regulars hitting over .300. Atlanta Braves prospect Andrelton Simmons and Minnesota Twins prospect Curt Smith have been especially prolific, with Simmons hitting .370 and Smith posting a .375 clip so far in the Classic. Considering the 17 runs the team put up against the Mariners and San Diego Padres this week in Arizona, it's safe to say the players wearing orange and black are feeling good at the plate, taking on the persona of their manager, who is affectionately referred to as "Bam Bam."
As his team gears up to challenge an unbeaten Dominican Republic club on Monday at 9 ET in a game that can be watched live on MLB Network and ESPN, "Bam Bam" knows the Kingdom of the Netherlands' bats will need to continue sizzling.
"Whenever they pitch, I think we're going to have to have good at-bats, grind-out at-bats to wear them down," Meulens said of the Dominicans, who reached the semis by defeating the United States last Thursday. "We've been doing a good job at that. We've played two very, very good exhibition games in Arizona against the Padres and Mariners -- got a bunch of hits, scored a bunch of runs. And that's the way we're going to have to play to come out victorious on Monday."
Meulens appreciates how important the team's consistent progress in the Classic has become to the spread of baseball in his country.
"I think that us going into the second round in 2009 has given us the assurance that we can compete on this high level with the better countries," he said. "I think once we passed the first round [this year] beating Korea, which is a powerhouse, and beating Australia to get to Tokyo, then beating Cuba twice there to get here, that's just a sign that we have arrived as a country."
Manny Randhawa is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.