Beneath The Numbers, Luis Urias Starts To Find His Stride In The Major Leagues
SAN DIEGO—There are storybook beginnings to major league careers and ones defined by struggle.
Luis Urias, incontrovertibly, falls into the latter camp.
The Padres’ 22-year-old second baseman and No. 28 prospect on the BA Top 100 entered the week mired in a 1-for-24 slump since he was recalled from Triple-A El Paso on July 20. Overall he hit .135 (13-for-96) over his first 114 career plate appearances, spread across three big league separate stints.
The thing is, Urias feels good with where he’s at. In his mind, it’s only a matter of time before the hits start to come.
“Actually I’ve been feeling great in the box,” Urias said. “I just feel like I haven’t got lucky at all. It’s nothing to worry about. I’m seeing the ball well, I’m feeling comfortable at the plate and, I mean, I just gotta keep working.”
Urias made moves in a positive direction Monday, going 1-for-3 with an opposite-field home run in the Padres’ 8-1 win over the Orioles. He also reached base after getting hit by a pitch that grazed his lip and finished with a well-struck fly ball to center field that died in the Petco Park night.
There are definitive signs things are getting better. Ten of Urias’ last 13 balls in play have left the bat at 92 mph or higher, per Statcast, an encouraging progression after his earlier stints were marred by weak contacts and swings and misses. He has more walks (seven) than strikeouts (four) since his most recent recall, a testament to his keen eye.
Beneath the unsightly results, that combination of strike-zone discipline and hard contact provides the promise of better days ahead.
“He’s fine,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “I thought the (July 25 game against the Mets), where he squared up three baseballs off (Jacob) deGrom, maybe four guys do that all season long. (Amed) Rosario made a great play in the hole, a great diving play up the middle and the ball he barreled there at the track in left-center, you walk out of there 0-for-3. It’s been that kind of start. It’s baseball. You go through stretches like that.
“He can hit, we know it. It was fun to watch him get a knock today, a big one for us. We’re just waiting for that day where it’s a couple hits and a couple walks and you get him going.”
Hitting has never been a problem for Urias. Preternaturally gifted with a discerning eye and elite hand-eye coordination, the Mexico native hit .308 with a .397 on-base percentage and a .433 slugging percentage in his minor league career. He did so while being more than three years younger than league average at every level he played.
Urias battled the size and direction of an ever-evolving leg kick, tried to strike the balance between being a contact hitter and finding power and went through all the developmental challenges that come with rising up the minor leagues.
At the end of all of it, the numbers were always there.
“He’s such a good hitter and we know that,” Green said. “It’s been a slow start. First 20 at-bats he had, he came up here and they were sporadic. He’s been more consistent. Just waiting for him to find his rhythm.”
That rhythm increasingly appears to be coming. For Urias, it’s only a matter of time.
“I’m not getting the results that I want right now but I’ve been feeling great,” Urias said. “I’ve been working and I’ve been trying to be me and to stay in the big leagues. It’s been fine man. With the group that we have here, I’m looking forward to stay maybe 15 years.”