Blue Jays top SS prospect Richard Urena getting noticed
Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Richard Urena has been making the most of his time with the big league club this spring training
Richard Urena is quietly having a coming out party with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The 20-year-old has joined fellow top positional prospects Anthony Alford and Rowdy Tellez in major league camp with the Jays, but instead of simply gaining experience, Urena is making impact plays and grabbing the attention of manager John Gibbons.
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“He looks like the future,” Gibbons told Paul Hagen of MLB.com. “He’ll probably be the heir apparent to [Troy] Tulowitzki someday. He’s very calm. He carries himself like a big leaguer. He hits from both sides of the plate, and he’s a good defender. So he’s got everything. It’s just that he’s such a youngster, and he’s got to pay his dues.”
The 6’1″, 170-pound Urena originally signed with the Blue Jays out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old and has since risen to the Advanced-A Dunedin level in 2015.
Between 30 games with Dunedin and 91 with the Lansing Lugnuts last season, Urena found his power stroke.
Beyond his 16 home runs and 66 RBI, though, Urena desperately needs to increase his walk rate and slash his strikeout rate. With 110 strikeouts to just 16 walks in 2015, something has to change.
Gibbons, however, seems optimistic about Urena’s all-around game after watching him make a handful of high-effort defensive plays during the Blue Jays 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.
“To play shortstop in the big leagues you’ve got to be a good defender. So he’s got that. But I see the complete game. He can run a little bit. He’s got offence and defence,” Gibbons said.
Maintaining the power surge will also be something to watch 2016 as it represented a career outlier, but one of Toronto’s least-discussed top-10 prospects no longer appears to be a secret.