The San Diego Padres farm system has really taken a bad rap over the past few years. The onslaught of trades this past off-season did in fact weaken the system, but there are still plenty of developing players within the system who could easily surprise you.
One such player is Luis Urias who is presently batting lead-off for a playoff bound Ft. Wayne team. Urias started the season in low A Ball with the Tri-City Dust Devils in Washington. It only took 10 games and a .355 batting average and a .487 on base percentage, for the Padres to promote him to Indiana to play for the Tin Caps.
So far this season in Ft. Wayne he is hitting .305 in 167 at bats with an impressive .384 on base percentage. Oh and did I mention that he is only 18 years old. Simply amazing. To already be performing at the A-Ball level at an age in which he should be in high school is very exciting for the Padres. The team undoubtedly is very high on this young man.
Luis Urias was signed at the age of 16 in December 2013. Born in Magdelena de Kino, in Sonora, Mexico, the Padres negotiated his contract from the Mexico City Red Devils.
The second baseman has shown a great eye at the plate at his young age. Urias currently has a .392 on base percentage and .306 batting average in 363 minor league at-bats. To play professional baseball at the age of 16 speaks of the potential of this young second baseman. Urias does not have much speed though. He has been caught stealing 18 times with only 17 stolen bases. His speed is average at best, but that’s not the end of the world.
I watched some scouting video on him and it was very impressive. The video was before he was signed by the Padres. He took ground balls from shortstop and second base. He poses no threat to Cory Spangenberg, Yangervis Solarte and Jedd Gyorko as he is still years away from being Major League ready.
Urias is very fluid and has excellent range in the infield. You can see why the Padres moved him to second base though, as his arm strength is lacking. He gets himself in very good position and transitions the ball well to his hand, yet the arm just isn’t there. He is young, and arm strength can be built if the Padres feel his range and positioning is adequate at shortstop.
Hitting was also very impressive to see, as he even took swings left-handed. The left-handed swing was stiff and off balance and the Padres were wise to have him concentrate as a right-handed hitter only. The swing is nice and compact, as he gets his hands through the ball well. Hits up the middle and to right side with ease, and in my opinion has a very high ceiling.
Luis Fernando Urias Figueroa was signed to play with the Yaquis de Obregon in November of 2014. At the age of 17, he was the second youngest in the history of the Mexican League. Playing time was limited, but to be on a team at that age again bodes well for his future. He surely gained a lot of knowledge from playing with teammates who were easily twice his age. The fact they chose him to play on a team like that shows his maturity level is way above the norm.
The Padres are sure to bring him up slowly being that he is only 18. Think about it, when most of us were struggling with adolescence and high school, this young man already had almost two years of professional baseball experience. There have been players like Andrew Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., and Bryce Harper who have played at the Major League level in their teenage years, but each of them were American. On top of the everyday problems of succeeding in the professional level, Urias also has to battle language and cultural differences in a new country.
Urias has yet to hit a professional home run, so it is safe to say he has very little power. He does make consistent contact and has only 31 strike outs in his 363 Minor League at bats. Team that with 38 walks drawn in that time, and you have a young man who handles the bat very well. To have more walks than strike outs in your professional career is a great sign to his development with the bat.
Luis Urias could develop into a very special player. He should at some point in the 2016 season play Double-A ball. If he continues to progress at that level, the team will consider taking a look at this young man. Urias needs to develop a little more pop in his bat. He gets on base, but a right handed hitters with no power and no speed are a dime a dozen. Urias still has time to develop, keep an eye on this young man.