Richard Urena was recently anointed the 94th prospect in baseball on the Top 100 Prospect list tabulated by MLB.com.
The Toronto Blue Jays signed Richard Urena as a 16-year old International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 for $725,000. The shortstop is approaching his 21st birthday and already has 381 professional games under his belt and is on the cusp of the baseball world taking notice.
Name: Richard Urena
Position: SS Age: 20
Height: 6’0″ Weight: 185 lbs
Throws: Right Bats: Both
Acquired: International Free Agent Signing 2012
The lanky shortstop is a capable defender with a plus arm and is a good bet to remain at the position as the successor to Troy Tulowitzki. Urena saw action in 30 games with double-A (New Hampshire) to end the season and is a good bet to begin the 2017 campaign with the Fisher Cats.
The switch-hitter hit .295 with 153 hits including eight home runs while swiping nine bags in 563 plate appearances between Dunedin and New Hampshire. Urena did see his power numbers dip from the previous season when he hit 16 round trippers. However he cut down his strikeouts from 110/83 and increased his walk total from 16/29 from 2015.
In 2016, the switch-hitting Urena hit .313 from the left side versus right handed pitching and hit all but one of his homers from the left side. Urena’s average dropped to .242 from the right side against left handed pitching.
At the end of July last season Urena began a stretch of 15 consecutive games where he had at least one or more hits between July 27th and August 12th. When the hitting streak finally came to an end Urena had stroked 30 hits during the 15-game run. The following game after Urena lost the streak, he came right back with three hits including two doubles.
"Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons had high praise for Urena last season stating this about the young infielder: “He looks like the future, 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. 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.Next: Former GM Alex Anthopoulos has nothing but praise for J.P. Howell"
Over his four minor league seasons the 20-year old Urena has a .287/.331/.418 slash line with 27 home runs and 32 stolen bases in 1683 plate appearances. If Urena can continue to improve his plate discipline and cut down on his strikeouts the future will be very bright for the product of the Dominican Republic.
As long as Urena keeps improving at every minor league stop, the youngster will have a real shot at manning the shortstop position in Toronto for a very long time to come.
Top-30 Blue Jays prospect rankings:
#30: RHP Jordan Romano #29: RHP Yennsy Diaz #28: CF Reggie Pruitt
#27: 1B Ryan McBroom #26: CF Roemon Fields #25: 2B Cavan Biggio
#24: RHP Jose Espada #23: RHP Patrick Murphy #22: C Danny Jansen
#21: OF Dwight Smith Jr. #20: RHP Zach Jackson #19: RHP Francisco Rios
#18: OF Harold Ramirez #17: C Max Pentecost #16: Ryan Borucki
#15: OF Joshua Palacios #14: OF J.B. Woodman #13: C Reese McGuire
#12: RHP Conner Greene #11: IF/OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #10: SS Bo Bichette
#9: LHP Angel Perdomo #8: RHP Justin Maese #7: T.J. Zeuch
#6: Jon Harris