Jays From the Couch continues our Toronto Blue Jays 2017 Top Prospects list with #5, Richard Urena.
It’s that time of year again! We’re counting down our Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects for 2017. We’ve selected our Top 15 and will be profiling each one. You are bound to find many of these lists in your travels, which makes for great conversation. The basis for rankings varies even more than the number of lists you’ll find. Some prefer to look at how close to “big league ready” a prospect is, while others look at “stuff” or “tools”.
To construct our list, we have scoured over scouting reports, numbers and a lot more to finalize our 2017 Top Prospects list. Feel free to weigh in on each selection in the comment section! It’s part of the fun!
CHECK OUT THE REST OF OUR 2017 TOP PROSPECTS, INCLUDING HONORABLE MENTIONS HERE
Name: Richard Urena
Born: February 26th, 1996
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent by Toronto on July 3rd, 2012
Weight: 185 lbs
Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a 16 year old, Richard Urena is finally being noticed around the league. Now at 20, he has recently been named #94 on MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects list. With four years of experience in the minors, Urena has been able to go from Rookie ball in 2013 and work his way up to AA New Hampshire by 2016. Throughout his time in the minors he has produced offensively, slashing a career line of .287/.331/.418.
In 2015 Urena played for both Lansing and Dunedin. Over the course of that year we saw plenty of power from the shortstop as he finished with 16 HR’s and 66 RBI’s, both career highs. Urena also produced a K% of around 20% for both teams, which is about average but could certainly be improved on. His BB% was ridiculously low with a 3.2% in Lansing and a 2.3% in Dunedin. This low walk percentage comes into play when looking at his 2015 OBP, which was .262 for the season.
In 2016 we saw Urena improve in most offensive categories that were not HR’s or RBI’s. With only ten more at-bats than his previous season, the switch hitter saw his doubles jump from 16 to 24, triples from 5 to 12 and his total bases from 207 to 225. Each of those stats were also career highs. His slash line of .295/.335/.43 also jumped back around his minor league averages. A reason for Urena’s strong season can be attributed to his improvements in both K% and BB%. Over the season he was able to drop his K% to around the 14% mark while improving his BB% to 5.8% in Dunedin and 3.0% in New Hampshire.
Due to his solid 2016 season in Dunedin, he was able to make the jump to AA for 30 games. Through 30 games he hit .266 with a .282 OBP. He did manage to hit six doubles, five triples and accumulate 18 RBI’s with his limited time in AA, which is a good sign. Though it wasn’t the strongest showing for him in AA, we can look to as early as 2015 to find a example of how playing the final 30 games of the season at a higher level will only help Urena be ready for next season.
Outlook for 2017:
Look for Urena to start with AA New Hampshire to continue to work on his game. If he can produce close to his career numbers in AA, there’s a good chance we’ll see him called up to AAA Buffalo by the end of the season. There’s always potential for him to be a call up to the Blue Jays due to injuries, but guys like Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins will probably be the players to the fill that role ahead of him in 2017. Urena must also work on his defense before getting the call to the MLB. A career FPCT of .939 at shortstop is not enough to put him in front of the other call-ups just yet. If anything we could see Urena more as a 2018 call-up.
ETA: 2018 as a call-up. Look for 2019 to be the season where he’s with the Blue Jays on more of a full time basis.
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