If you haven’t heard by now, the San Diego Padres’ farm system is absolutely loaded.
Widely regarded as the deepest farm system in all of baseball, and to some, the best, the Padres have an extremely bright future to look forward to. With that being said, some of those intriguing prospects might be on their way to Petco Park much more quickly than we imagined.
For Padres second base prospect Luis Urias, the dream of becoming an everyday Major Leaguer is a lot closer to become a reality than some might believe. Urias has been one of the most dominant hitters in the minor leagues since he stepped onto a professional diamond.
In his first full professional season, the Mexican native took home a California League MVP award as well as the league’s Rookie of the Year award. He continued his success at the Double-A level, and had it not been for an ankle injury, most likely would have been the Texas League batting champion.
Urias is arguably one of the best pure hitters in all of Minor League baseball. He’s incredibly disciplined at the plate, striking out (135) fewer times than he walked (153). There’s no reason to believe that his incredible eye will not translate to the next level, giving the Padres a true on-base threat that they haven’t had in a long time.
The infielder has an incredibly smooth swing that allows him to hit a ton of line drives. Although he is not really big in size, he does hit the ball extremely hard, posting one of the highest exit velocities at his position. A lot of concern has arisen from Urias’ lack of power, but there is reason to believe that with how hard the ball comes off his bat, there is potential for some sort of power to develop.
Defensively speaking, Urias has proved to be extremely versatile, playing both middle infield positions throughout his minor league career. For now, I think he will be the Padres’ long term second baseman unless Carlos Asuaje absolutely tears it up this season or Fernando Tatis Jr. moves to third base. In that scenario, I could see Urias moving over to shortstop, where he has proven capable. Scouts have graded his arm and range well and Urias has the defensive ability to be a plus defender at the big league level.
Now, the real question arises: Can Luis Urias get to the big league level in 2018? My answer? Of course, but under some circumstances.
Think about it like this. With the Yangervis Solarte trade, the Padres’ 2018 opening day second baseman will more than likely be Carlos Asuaje. While Asuaje did play well after earning a full-time promotion in 2017, the Padres seem to be unsure on how Asuaje fits into their future plans. He has been rumored to be on the trade block since he is young and still has some upside. This offseason, A.J. Preller and company also acquired what is more than likely to be the Padres’ opening day shortstop, Freddy Galvis from the Philadelphia Phillies, for a young pitching prospect in Enyel De Los Santos. Galvis is an above-average defender that Preller has said he would like to keep in San Diego following this upcoming season. If both Asuaje and Galvis play at a high level, it is hard to envision any scenario where the Padres will bring Urias up to the big league level. Why should they? It does him no good to be a role player with the team if he could be getting valuable starting reps in the minor leagues. However, if Asuaje or Galvis start to struggle mightily, there is almost a guarantee that we would see Luis Urias with the Padres this year.
My prediction? He’ll be at Petco Park at some point in May. While I do like Carlos Asuaje, I don’t think he will be as productive as the Padres would like him to be and they will quickly elect to give their young stud in Luis Urias a shot. He surely won’t start the season with the team, barring an injury to either Asuaje or Galvis, and will more than likely open up with Triple-A El Paso. All of this being said, the future is extremely bright for Luis Urias and we should expect to see him very soon.
Diego works at Prep Baseball Report as an Area Scout in Illinois and Missouri. He graduated this spring with a Bachelor Degree in Communications and played four years of college baseball, logging nearly 50 innings of work in a relief role. Diego hopes to work in an MLB front office one day and has been a Padres fan since he was six years old.