Following a surprising power surge in 2015, Toronto Blue Jays prospect Richard Urena will be a player to keep a close eye one on in the coming season.
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Signed out of the Dominican Republic at the young age of 16 in 2012, the middle infield prospect has already been through three seasons in the Blue Jays farm system.
Richard Urena posted solid batting numbers in the first two years, but with little to no pop to show for it. And with declining peripheral numbers, there is plenty of reason to doubt his recent surge is sustainable.
Name: Richard Urena
Position: SS Age: 19
Height: 6’1” Weight: 170 lbs.
Throws: Right Bats: Left
Acquired: International signing (2012)
When you look at Urena’s batting line in those first two years in comparison to the third year it makes one furrow their brow. Because despite only hitting three homers across the first two years (compared to the career high of 16 he set in 2015), his OPS and wRC+ were actually higher in ’13 and ’14 than they were last season.
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The main culprit here is Urena’s batting average and OBP. After posting averages of .300 and .308, that number plummeted to .262 in 2015. And while that could be chalked up to advancing to a new level at such a young age, it could also be explained by high BABIP numbers early in his career.
On top of the questions about his bat, Urena has been consistently questioned about his defence. As a shortstop in his career he has put up seasons of 21, 19, and 23 errors. So if Urena can’t manage to stick at short the question arises, where does he go?
If he can transition to second base his bat may still be able to play at the major league level. But if he is forced to move to third, or into a corner outfield spot, the pressure will really be on for him to show what he can do at the plate.
But Urena is still young and has plenty of time to prove to the Blue Jays organization what kind of player he is. With great early career numbers and the recent uptick in mashing abilities, Urena has put himself on the map as a prospect to watch over the next few years and his age leaves him with a significant amount of upside.