Jays From the Couch continues its 2016 Blue Jays Top Prospects list with #7, the possible shortstop of the future.
Signed as free agent out of the Dominican Republic as a 16 year old, Richard Urena is slowly putting together a solid minor league campaign that is seeing him rise through the Blue Jays system. After seeing two levels in 2015, he just well may be poised to repeat that promotion speed.
DOB: Feb 26, 1996
Bats: Both Throws: R
Urena is a switch hitter who showed flashes of power in 2015. Before his promotion from Lansing to Dunedin, he had collected 15 HR to go with 13 doubles and 4 triples for an ISO of 0.172. His 91 games (408 plate appearances) for the Lugnuts netted him a 2015 Mid-West League All Star nod. It certainly was enough to earn him a trip to the next level in the Blue Jays’ system.
But, in 30 games in the FSL, his power took a nose dive (ISO of 0.065). He hit just one home run. What was consistent, though was his patience at the plate. Urena shows an aggressive approach in that he goes up there swinging. His walk/strike out numbers remind me of Kevin Pillar in that he rarely takes a walk. In Lansing, he whiffed at a rate of 20.6% to just a 3.2% walk rate. In Dunedin, it was more of the same. He struck out 20.3% of the time and walked just 2.3%. His OBP for the entire 2015 season was just .284.
The difference between Pillar and Urena is that the now big league center fielder could hit his way on base (minor league OBP of .364). Urena has not shown such an ability. In his 536 plate appearances in 2015, he’s collected 133 hits for a .262 average, which is not terrible. But, if you’re not walking, you’ve got to be hitting.
If you head over to MLBFarm.com and check out Urena’s splits, you’ll see that all but one of his 2015 home runs went to right field. He’s a switch hitter, but showed his power in that direction. His spray chart (below) is also interesting in that it shows him hitting (basically) directly at fielders. He’ll have to use the gaps more if he’s going to find success. However, what is most noticeable are his groundouts.
He is a promising young talent that has the potential to develop into a five-tool player at the major league level…The area that gives Urena a slight nod over [Dawel] Lugo is his defensive play. Even though both players are extremely talented with high ceilings, Urena has better range and a more accurate arm at shortstop which is huge when it comes to ranking players at this position.
That is probably the key, here. His defense is solid. His bat needs to grow, but he has time. We have to remember that he is 19 years old. He’ll be 20 when he arrives at camp as a Blue Jays Spring Training invitee.
Outlook for 2016:
Urena will likely be headed to Dunedin, at least to start. If he is held there for an extended period of time, it won’t be because of his glove. His bat needs some work. He’s entering his second full season of switch hitting, which he started in 2014. His youth and inexperience with hitting from both sides can be forgiven, though. He’ll be given the opportunity to take his time to come around. The strike outs will be a focus point, to be sure, but so too should be the ability to take a walk. It will be interesting to see if Urena can show some of that power that is in his bat.
*Featured Image Credit: Buck Davidson Under CC BY-NC 2.0 Cropped from original
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.