Getting to Know: Is The Blue Jays’ Richard Urena A Potential Solution At SS In September?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

With Troy Tulowitzki lost for the season the Blue Jays have been using Ryan Goins at shortstop.  Hardly an impressive option, it makes you wonder if they will give Richard Urena, a September callup directly from Double-A, an extended look.  While he struggled this season there is some upside, as the 21-year old has the potential to be a long-term solution.  Let’s take a look and get to know him a bit:

Rotoprofessor Rankings:
Blue Jays’ #6 Prospect

Hits – Switch

Age – 21

2017 Statistics:
Double-A – .247 (126-510), 5 HR, 60 RBI, 44 R, 0 SB

What We Said About Him:
It’s possible that he reaches the Majors in 2017, having gotten his feet wet at Double-A last season (124 AB), but a 2018 arrival is a bit more realistic.  That said, the biggest question hanging over him is what plus skill does he bring to the table, after posting 8 HR and 9 SB between High-A and Double-A last season.  It would appear that there’s a lot more speed potential, with 12 triples, though he’s hardly a blazer on the bases.  While he showed a strong ability to make consistent contact (strikeout rates of 14.8% and 14.4%), he hasn’t shown much ability to draw walks:

  • High-A – 5.8%
  • Double-A – 3.0%

That’s something that upper level pitching is going to exploit, so it’s something that needs to be closely monitored.  There’s obviously significant upside, but his 2016 performance has left some significant questions.

Thoughts:
Urena continued to show similar plate discipline at Double-A, with an 18.1% strikeout rate and 5.4% walk rate.  His 11.6% SwStr% brings even more questions to his approach at the plate and MLB pitching should be able to exploit him.

He does appear to be growing into some power, though it didn’t fully show up, as he added 36 doubles and 3 triples.  That said he’s never going to be a 30 HR slugger, which further calls into question the approach.  If he’s not hitting for extreme power (think 12ish HR per season) and doesn’t have a strong approach, what exactly does he bring?

Speed?  Not quite, as he didn’t steal a single base at Double-A (and only attempted 1).  That’s not to say that he can’t be a base stealer, but he’s simply not one currently.

Is there upside as he learns and matures?  Absolutely, but he’s not even close yet and needs to be afforded ample time to develop.  Maybe he gets there, but for now his stock appears to be falling and he’s a player who’s easily ignored.

Preseason Grade – B-
Current Grade – C+

Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs

Make sure to check out our Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects by clicking here!

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