Join Jays From the Couch as we review the highlights and lowlights of Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Richard Urena‘s 2017 season
Heading into the 2017 season, Richard Urena was Toronto Blue Jays’ top shortstop prospect.
He had one heck of a season.
As a 21-yr-old, Urena spent most of the season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The talented infielder didn’t dominate Double-A pitching.
Despite this, Richard Urena still made his MLB debut with the Blue Jays on September 1st in a 13 inning 1-0 loss to division rivals Baltimore Orioles. Urena took over for Ryan Goins, collecting a double off former Toronto prospect, Miguel Castro, in his only at-bat. He saw 10 pitches, with 7 being strikes, before picking up his first MLB hit.
Urena had a nice stretch of games with Toronto, that is until the league figured him out. He put together a 6 game hit streak. He hit his first MLB home run on September 8th. He even drew 3 walks in his first major league start….not bad for a guy that walked just 13 times in 121 games back in 2015.
Signed in 2012 for $725K, Richard Urena has steadily moved through the Blue Jays farm system; unfortunately, 2017 was the first time his stock actually dropped.
Heading into the season MLB Pipeline ranked the Fisher Cats shortstop as Toronto’s 4th best prospect. Putting his MLB debut aside, he didn’t do enough to distance himself from Bo Bichette or Logan Warmoth and is now ranked as the system’s 10th best prospect by MLB Pipeline.
Richard Urena Career Stats
|AA (||AA (||Minors||159||634||58||159||42||8||5||78||0||3||34||119||.251||.286||.366||.652|
|A+ (||A+ (||Minors||127||518||61||151||21||8||9||49||12||7||28||90||.292||.332||.415||.747|
|Rk (||Rk (||Minors||60||244||38||78||17||2||2||23||5||4||19||57||.320||.367||.430||.798|
Richard Urena continues to improve as a switch hitter. This has allowed him to use the entire field. According to MLBfarm.com Urena’s top 4 hit location breakdown results were RF (93), CF (87), 2nd (80), LF (79). Against RHP, Urena collected 71 hits to CF and an even distribution of 64 hits to each RF, LF, and 2nd…..definitely not pull happy. He also hit 5 HR as a LHB.
While he didn’t finish with a batting average to brag about, Urena used his good bat speed and quick wrists to hit 36 doubles, tops in the Eastern League.
Urena had seven 3-hit games and his 126 hits ranked 2nd on the Fisher Cats. He also finished 2nd on the team in RBI thanks to 10 multi-RBI games.
Urena splits were pretty close, which is what you want to see from a switch hitter.
When facing right-handed pitching, Urena slashed .249/.284/.366 with a 4 HR (one ML HR).
When facing left-handed pitching, Urena slashed .259/.318/.362.
The 6-foot infielder has his best month in July after slashing .262/.322/.388 with an OPS of .710. He hit 10 doubles and one home run while driving in 11 runs. Richard Urena also had his best month in terms of plate discipline with a season-high 9 walks despite striking out 21 times.
I’ve always been critical of Urena’s aggressive approach at the plate. Prior to Double-A, he was able to put up good number thanks to his advanced feel for hitting but now it appears to be negatively impacting his projectability.
Urena struck out 100 times as a member of the Fisher Cats. His season-high was 4 and he struck out three times twice. This resulted in an 18.1 K% which was 3.5% higher than in 2016 and his 5.4 BB% is only slightly better than last season.
Never known as a base stealer, Urena failed to register a stolen base in the minors this season. His inability to steal (9-for-17) in 2016 may have labeled him as a high risk in the running game….but zero SB. That’s sad.
Urena’s worse month of 2017 was a toss up between April or June.
I went with June because of the larger sample size and the 4BB in 26 GP. Urena managed to slash .234/.261/.364 with a .626 OPS. On the plus side, Urena hit 9 doubles, a triple, a HR, and drove in 14. But I just couldn’t get past the 4BB and 18K.
Lastly, Urena committed 18 errors in Double-A. He needs to tighten up this side of his game. Urena has a strong arm and excellent range but too often is lazy with his throws and fielding the ball.
Urena will be entering his age 22 season in 2018. He is expected to join the Buffalo Bisons and should get most of the Bisons reps at short. Urena and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. split time between SS and 2nd during their time in NH and could do so again in Triple-A.
Its possible Urena will see time at 3rd and in the outfield as Toronto continues their search for a super utility player. If you can’t trade for one or sign one, why not create one?
Urena should to come to camp stronger which should turn some of those EL leading doubles into balls over the fence. A return to double-digit HR and added versatility should see him return to the majors in 2018.
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