With just over five weeks until the trade deadline, the San Diego Padres remain in the wild-card race. Over the coming month, the Padres will have to weigh dipping into arguably the game’s best farm system in order to make outside additions for the stretch run. But the Padres don’t necessarily have to make a trade if they want to leverage their prospect war chest and upgrade their roster at the same time.
Rather, the Padres could accomplish both goals by promoting infielder Luis Urias — who, along with MacKenzie Gore, is one of two perceived “untouchables” in the San Diego system, per rival executives.
Urias may have struggled in an 11-game stint earlier this season, but he’s dominated in Triple-A. He entered the week hitting .338/.425/.658 with 17 home runs in 57 games. Keep in mind, the 5-foot-9 Urias had 17 home runs in his first 400-plus games as a professional. What’s spurred the change?
One league source confirmed to CBS Sports that Urias has upped his launch angle this season. That statement jives with public data available at FanGraphs, that shows his ground ball rate has decreased from 49.1 percent last year to 36.2 percent this season. Urias has seemingly altered his approach, but it hasn’t impacted his plate discipline measures: his walk rate is slightly down (to 11.3 percent) while his strikeout rate has improved (one percentage point).
Whether or not Urias’s newfound power translates to the majors is to be determined. If so, he could be the latest of a player type who has benefitted from the juiced ball. As Jarrett Seidler of Baseball Prospectus has pointed out, a lot of the “breakout” types have been players with well-above-average hit tools who added loft to their swings.
Urias, who for years has been expected to content for a batting title and offer below-average power, might well add his name to the collection. First, though, the Padres need to give him a shot. Given the way Urias is hitting — and the way Ian Kinsler is playing in the majors — it may not be much longer before San Diego has the most exciting double-play combo in the game.
For a look at, check out our colleague Scott White’s take.
Now, let’s get to the Watch.