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Luis Urias Targets Strength Gains

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Luis Urias (Photo by Bill Mitchell)[/caption]

SAN DIEGO—Second baseman Luis Urias won the batting title and MVP award in the high Class A California League last year after he opened the season as the circuit’s youngest player.

Now, the 19-year-old looks to get stronger.

Farm director Sam Geaney said Urias, who is listed at 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, will work to "continue to get stronger to handle the rigors of long seasons. He’s had some soft-tissue issues (quadriceps, hamstring) in the past, so being on top of things in that regard is a priority.”

Geaney added: "Baseball-wise, he’s in a good spot.”

Showing improved strength last year, Urias hit six home runs after hitting none in his first 106 pro games.

He batted .330/.397/.440 at Lake Elsinore last season, and for his career he has more walks (85) than strikeouts (70) and an impressive ability to hit all types of pitches at all velocities in every part of the zone.

"He’s a very skilled player,” general manager A.J. Preller told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "He’s always been very advanced for his age. Probably the biggest thing we’ve seen in the last two years is he’s added some physical strength. That’s shown up in some more extra-base hits, more gap-to-gap power.”

Though second base is Urias’ best defensive position, the Padres will work him on the left side of the infield, too.

"He can catch and throw. He’s an accurate thrower with good arm strength,” Preller said. "This year, he’ll get a chance to do a little bit of everything.”

Urias has drawn comparisons with Placido Polanco, another 5-foot-9 second baseman whose bat control, defensive reliability and smart play translated into a 16-year career, mostly with the Phillies and Tigers.

Urias will begin this season at Double-A San Antonio and could be ready for a major league promotion late in 2018.


High Class A Lake Elsinore will have a new manager in Edwin Rodriguez, who previously served as manager of the Marlins for parts of the 2010-11 seasons. Rodriguez spent the past three seasons in the Indians organization, most recently as the manger at short-season Mahoning Valley.

The Padres retained their coaching staff at Triple-A El Paso: manager Rod Barajas, pitching coach Bronswell Patrick and hitting coach Morgan Burkhart.

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— Tom Krasovic is a columnist at the San Diego Union-Tribune

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