The San Diego Padres’ second base job is currently a revolving door of fill-ins.
Carlos Asuaje currently has the job, but has done little to inspire confidence with a .196/.271/.299 slash line. Though he is coming off a year in which he went .270/.334/.362, those numbers don’t exactly jump off the page as elite. Though Jose Pirela, .254/.314/.341, has spent time at the position, he is not the long-term answer at second base for the Padres. That title should go to El Paso Chihuahuas second baseman Luis Urias.
The middle infielder has become a fan favorite and has yet to see a pitch in a Major League regular season game.
The diminutive Urías has won over the fanbase with his ability to make solid contact and get on base. In his brief spring training stint this season, Urías showed exactly just what he could do, hitting .286 with a .394 OBP, an impressive appearance for a 20-year-old in his first MLB spring. But it’s more than that; it’s what he has done at every level of the Minor Leagues that tells you he is ready for the show.
In 1,847 Minor League appearances, Urías has walked (195) more times than striking out (175), showing his tremendous skill of plate discipline. In fact, this is the first year that he has more strike outs (15) than walks (14) since 2015, when he was a 17-year-old playing in Fort Wayne. He has a Minor League career OBP of .398. Eric Hosmer, the Padres’ big free agent signing this fall, has a career .344 OBP. This year, his first time through Triple-A besides a small sample size in previous years, he is getting on base at an astounding rate of 42% of the time.
As impressive as his plate discipline is, his bat is the reason he is Major League-ready.
His career Minor League batting average is .310 with an OPS of .792. To put that in perspective, Wil Myers‘ career OPS is .768, and he is a guy that has a more traditional power stroke, compared to Urías, who is a gap-to-gap, line drive-type hitter. Urías is never going to hit over 30 home runs at Petco or in the Major Leagues, but combine his ability to get on-base with his ability to hit 30 doubles in a year and you have a real contributor with the bat.
— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) December 30, 2017
Any questions about Urías’ glove have been answered after he made a switch to shortstop last year. He showed that not only could he handle the position, but he exceeded expectations there. This clearly would not be his position with the Padres, as second base is where he belongs, but it’s a nice piece to add to the resume. With the Padres not having a clear backup at short, it is nice to have a guy like that who can contribute at either spot and not have somebody like Christian Villanueva, who made his fourth error already this year, be your “backup” shortstop. This also gives the Padres some flexibility in making sure the right-handed hitter gets a full slate of at-bats.
What about service time? Well that has come and gone, as the April 11th deadline is long in the rear view mirror. That basically means that any time from this point on, this year basically does not count towards Urías’ contract with the Padres, giving them an extra year of control on him.
At this point, there is no reason not to call up the young infielder. He is going to make his debut anyway this year, why not pull the trigger now? Give this phenom, and arguably our best prospect, the majority of the season to see the speed of the Major Leagues. If the Padres truly expect to compete in the coming years, they need to give Urías the same opportunity that they are currently giving Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi. They need to start calling on some of these young players that have proven they can play at the other levels.