2015 Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospect: #13 Richard Urena


It’s that time of year, where the team here at Jays Journal once again discusses the Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects. We’ve compiled our Top 20. Basically, we wanted to create the most all-inclusive Blue Jays prospect ranking out there.

So, we took a mixed approach to our rankings. Not only did we take a ranking from each member of our writing staff, but we also figured in the rankings from other publications as well, including MLB.com, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and Minor League Ball.

We’ve already begun our Top 20 prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays system. #20A.J. Jimenez, #19Matthew Dean#18John Stilson, #17- Alberto Tirado, #16- Dwight Smith Jr., #15- Anthony Alford, #14Dawel Lugo

Lucky #13 on our list is SS, Ruchard Urena
Name: Richard Urena
Position: Shortstop
Date of Birth: 2/26/1996 (18)
Acquired: 2012 International Signing at Age 16
High School: Unknown
College: None
Height/Weight: 6’1″/170 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R

Awards and Accomplishments:
• Ranked #9 on MLB.com’s 2012 Top Internation Prospects
• 2014 Webster Award Winner – Bluefield Blue Jays – Appalachian League

Stats and Analysis:

At #13 in Jays Journal’s 2015 Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects is 2012 International signing Richard Urena.  Urena was signed at the not-so-ripe age of 16, along with the likes of former Blue Jays Top Prospect Franklin Barreto

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With Toronto having a luxury of arms in the farm system, in 2012 the team decided to address the issue with the bats.  The irony to this is that Urena was not known for his bat.  A 6’1” giant at the age of 18, his calling has come compliments of his range.  I say “range” simply because it’s one thing to get to the ball, it’s another thing to field it.  In Urena’s limited time in rookie ball, he’s committed 40 errors in just 119 games at the SS position.  Still, that 4.31 RF/G is awfully tough to ignore, especially when compared to current Blue Jays SS Jose Reyes (3.74 RF/G in 2014).

When the man-child was promoted to Vancouver, the Blue Jays experimented with him at few positions.  In nine games for Vancouver, he played five at 2B and three at 3B. The reason being? Franklin Barreto.  With Brett Lawrie & More to Oakland for Josh Donaldson” href=”https://jaysjournal.com/2014/11/28/toronto-blue-jays-oakland-athletics-trade-brett-lawrie-josh-donaldson-sean-nolin-kendall-graveman-news-report-hot-stove/”>Barreto traded to the A’s, SS of the future is now Urena’s job to lose.

So we discussed Urena in the field, but what about Urena’s bat?  During a decent amount of rookie ball, the left-handed hitting Urena has shown some capabilities with the stick, albeit with limited power. Though no Troy Tulowitzki in terms of power… and well, play in general… Urena, has proven to be quite the gap hitter in limited time, with an impressive 38 doubles in 133 games.

Have a view of Urena’s swing for yourself compliments of MLBProspectPortal.com

If you have never seen Urena’s swing before, he has made some changes in the last two seasons. His swing was a bit long in the Dominican League with a bat that lied flat on his left shoulder. He now keeps it upright with a timing mechanism, bat “waggle,” designed to bring his hands into position to swing sooner. He also shortened his stride, yet the pronounced leg kick is still there.  He uses the kick for balance as he shifts his weight to his back leg. This allows him to get lower and drive mid-to- lower pitches with authority. It also will cause him difficulty with pitches up in the strike zone and is something of which he will need to work out.

Outlook and ETA:

The young “slugger” did see his first share of struggles in Vancouver, but it’s very difficult to read into 37 PAs.  It’s also very difficult to gauge when Urena might make an appearance in The Show or even at what position.  I have never been a big fan of placing an ETA on players that are not out of A-ball.

With Barreto gone, he is currently the SS of the future.  The main question will be “can Urena improve on the errors in the field?”  While he’s only 18 and has some time to figure it out, the number of errors he’s made so far is a bit alarming.  The trade of Barreto however, does show the confidence Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has in Urena to improve.  That 4.31 RF/G is tough to ignore, but so is the .928 Fld%.

Despite being 18, Urena has two years of pro ball experience under his belt.  That being said, seeing him start the year in Vancouver would be of no surprise.  Seeing him in Toronto anytime soon would be.  He’s still quite raw and needs refinement in all aspects of the game.  Unless drastic improvement is made, he could be seen with the top club in 2018 at the earliest.  2020 would mark seven years of minor league ball, but that may be what it takes as well.

Next: 2015 Blue Jays Top Prospects: #14 Dawel Lugo