To put this nicely, the San Diego Padres have not played very good baseball this year.
Coming off a month in which they went 5-20, it appears that the Padres are well on their way to just another disappointing season. The one thing the team does have going for them, however, is a promising minor league system full of talent from top to bottom.
At the very top of that system, in Triple-A El Paso, lies one of the team’s best prospects in Luis Urias. Signed out of Mexico in 2013, the 21-year-old second baseman has done nothing but impress since his arrival to professional baseball. At the age of 19, Urias slugged his way to a California League MVP and a Rookie of the Year award as the youngest player in the entire league. He is a three-time minor league all-star and was selected to participate in the MLB Future’s Game this season as a representative of the world team.
Urias himself is one of the most intriguing prospects in all of baseball. He has a fantastic hit tool, allowing him to barrel baseballs up consistently despite having a smaller stature. While he does only stand at 5’9″, some scouts believe that he will have some power in the future simply because of how well he barrels up the baseball.
On top of being a fantastic hitter, his best ability is simply getting on base. Dating back to 2016, Urias has struck out 194 times while compiling 173 walks which is simply astonishing considering how young he is. His elite plate discipline allows him to work deep counts with opposing pitchers, leading to productive outs and a career .393 on-base percentage. From an offensive standpoint, Urias projects as a top-of-the-lineup hitter that, in his prime, should be competing for batting titles and will be any manager’s dream in the leadoff spot due to how well he gets on base.
Defensively speaking, the middle infielder can play both second base and shortstop, giving the Padres some flexibility with what they want to do with him. They have experimented with him at shortstop in case of a potential Fernando Tatis Jr. move to third base as well as just wanting to see what Urias can do as a shortstop. While the range and arm are of a quality defensive shortstop are there, many scouts believe that he will ultimately find a home at second base, where he provides above-average defense and gold glove potential. Very similar to his offensive game, there is little concern to what Luis Urias can do with the glove.
With all that being said, it’s time for the Padres to give him is big league opportunity.
Sure, the struggles have been there with Luis Urias in the previous weeks. His batting average this season is nothing special (.265) and his strikeouts (92) are high for a player with his level of plate discipline. However, despite Urias offensive struggles, he is ready to play with the Padres.
No matter what level of baseball he plays at, Urias’s advanced feel for the strike zone is going to translate well. While his offensive stats don’t scream anything special, Urias continues to get on base at a high rate (.379) and has pushed opposing pitchers into deep counts even when he gets out. Combine these tools with above-average defense and you have a player that is ready to compete at the Major League level.
The Padres aren’t going anywhere this season. The team is headed back to the bottom of the National League West and has absolutely nothing to lose with bringing Luis Urias up and letting him become accustomed to the big league game. The Atlanta Braves decided to go with this approach by bringing up Ronald Acuna Jr. and allowing Ozzie Albies to become their everyday second baseman, and they are in the midst of playoff contention while the Padres continue to sink in the cellar.
The simple truth is that Jose Pirela, Carlos Asuaje, and Cory Spangenberg are not the future at second base, whereas Luis Urias is. The time is now for the 21-year-old Mexican second baseman to make his presence known at the major league level.