At the age of 19, second baseman Luis Urias is quickly becoming a prime name to watch in the San Diego Padres system. For good reason, too. As the youngest player in the California League (until his teammate Josh Naylor arrived), Urias hit .330/.397/.440 with a .836 OPS for the Lake Elsinore Storm in 2016, en route to winning the California League MVP. He also had more walks (40) than strikeouts (36) and was chosen to participate in the 2016 Padres Futures Game at Petco Park. Luis Urias‘ 2016 campaign put him on the radar of many around the league. MLB.com’s prospect rankings have ranked him as the 11th best prospect in the Padres system.
Amongst all of the hype that A.J. Preller’s acquired prospects have gotten through trades, international signings, and the MLB Draft, Luis Urias (who was signed by Josh Byrnes) went about his business in 2016, a lot of it with minimal recognition. As a matter of fact, it is only within the past two months or so that many have opened their eyes and realized the talent of the Mexican native.
Second baseman Luis “Fernando” Urias was born on June 3, 1997 in Magdalena de Kino, Sonora, Mexico. The Padres signed him on December 27th, 2013, at the age of 16 years old. They negotiated his contract from the Mexico City Red Devils. Just a few months later, Urias made his professional debut with the DSL (Dominican Summer League) Padres. After a brief stint, he headed to Arizona to play in the Arizona Fall League. He showed flashes of promise, slashing .310/.393/.355 with five doubles and 10 stolen bases.
Following the AFL, Urias headed to Yaquis de Obregón (a Mexican baseball team of the Liga Mexicana del Pacífico) to play alongside his brother, Ramon. Then 17, he became the second-youngest player to ever play in the history of the league.
As an 18-year-old (!!), Luis Urias torched Northwest League pitching with the Tri-City Dust Devils, playing only ten games before the Padres decided to promote him to Fort Wayne. In 193 at bats in Fort Wayne, Urias hit .290 with a .370 OBP, walking 16 times while only striking out 18 times. He was basically a high school kid, hitting against pitchers who were three to five years older than him. The fact that he played that well gave A.J. Preller & company a reason to continue being aggressive in his development
After his second year in the Padres system, Urias once again headed to Yaquis de Obregon to play 2015 winter ball. After 36 games (107 at bats), Urias was hitting .280 with 16 RBIs and 11 runs scored. Then, something interesting happened.
The San Diego Padres contacted Yaquis, saying that they wanted Urias to come to San Diego for “tests.” After conducting tests, the Padres decided that it was best for Urias to rest and take the rest of the season off. This was a surprise to Yaquis, but they understood the response from the Padres, and the request was granted.
Perhaps rest was all that Urias needed, because his aforementioned 2016 was fantastic. Urias dominated the Cal League, and even succeeded in Triple-A El Paso while his potential teammates were playing in the Futures Game at Petco Park.
Urias capped off his year in the Padres organization with a 2-4 night at Petco Park in the Padres Futures Game.
When it comes to the scouting report on Luis Urias, it is quite obvious that his hit tool is very strong. Perhaps the best part of his approach is the simplicity of it. For being so young (he will not turn 20 until June), he has a very mature understanding of the strike zone. This can best be summarized in his K-BB ratio (70 strikeouts to 85 walks) and his 2016 hit spray chart (from MLBFarm.com).
There is not a lot of power in the bat of Urias, as he is only listed on MiLB.com at 5’9″, 160 pounds. However, he has the definite potential to fill out his frame a little bit and be a gap hitter. Here is a video I took of his two-run double at the Padres Futures Game:
Defensively, Urias is solid. His arm strength is average, but he is very comfortable and fluid in the infield. Many have wondered whether he could potentially move to SS, but that is unlikely. He profiles as a second baseman.
Base running-wise, Urias is not a speedster (he was caught stealing 13 times, as opposed to only 7 successful attempts). He has work to do in that department, but seems to run the bases quite well. Again, at only 19, base running is no worry at this point.
It is expected that the Padres will continue to be aggressive with Luis Urias and his development. As a 19-year-old on Opening Day, I would expect Urias to be at 2B in AA San Antonio.
Luis Urias is one of the more intriguing prospects in the San Diego Padres organization. Once overlooked, he again has a chance to surprise and perhaps crack some top-100 prospect boards during the 2017 season. Padres fans should be thrilled to have this talent in the organization, and it is going to be a lot of fun to follow his development in the upcoming years.