I have now seen Henry Urrutia play on many occasions. The Cuban prospect has been impressive for the Baysox, and is currently gaining some buzz around the Orioles organization. The following are my notes and thoughts on him.
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Urrutia stands at 6’5” 200 lbs, and has a lean body with long legs. While he is 26 years old, there still seems to be some room for potential growth on his lean frame. Maybe 10-15 lbs of muscle could be added to his frame, although it remains to be seen how that would alter his swing. Urrutia has a good baseball body, frame and stature for a corner OF.
Swing and Offense
Batting Stance - Open-legged and relaxed stance. His body is less open, and looks exaggerated due to his long legs. Keeps his hands and elbow high which allows him to lessen the noise in his swing.
Swing and Contact - Quick hands, good hand control, keeps hands inside the ball, bat glides through the zone. Above average bat speed. Minimal noise with his swing at the plate, as he keeps his head down. “Steps in the bucket” occasionally on above average secondary offerings from lefties. Above average ability to inside out the ball. A tick above average contact ability. Handles intermediate level fastballs with ease. Struggles against higher end velocity, but able to keep his hands back and slap balls to the opposite field. Open stance seems to help with this. He is able to keep his back elbow up on his follow through and drive the ball to left field. Struggles against quality secondary offerings away from him, which results in some weak fly outs.
Power – Surprising pop, more of a doubles or gap hitter, but can display some average power due to smooth swing and quick bat. Hits some easy home runs, does not look like a batter that is swinging for the fences. Think of power in terms of Nick Markakis, but less overall tools as a hitter.
Approach and Discipline – Good approach at the plate. Advanced approach for Double A. Ability to recognize fastball is plus, ability to spray fastball all over field is above average. Can get a little pull happy at times. Ability to learn from prior at bats. Able to pick up on similar sequences from the pitcher. Discipline against secondaries (SL, CU, CH, etc.) is still a work-in-progress.
Urrutia has looked rusty at times in RF. Over the weeks I have seen some progression, with noted improvements in his route running and ball tracking skills. I credit this mostly to shaking off the rust. He takes a good first step on contact, but sometimes takes adventurous routes to the ball. From the times I have seen him personally, he is much better going back on the ball than coming in. That’s due mostly to his athleticism, as he is able to recover well. Urrutia’s arm is a tick above-average in the OF, and he has shown capable arm strength, but his throws are a little inconsistent and often have a little too much loft. I have seen him gun down runners at home plate, so I know that there is certainly potential for improvement in this aspect of his game. Overall, I think he is going to be an average to above average defensive RF.
I have seen a ton of baseball games in my life. I honestly cannot remember the last time a professional baseball player approached all the umpires and shook their hands before the game started. Henry Urrutia did just that. He seems to have a good personality, genuinely be a nice person, and is a really easy player to root for.
Rust is clearly playing a factor in a few phases of his game. This is important to note, as he essentially missed two years of playing time.
Overall, he looks to be somewhere in the range of a 4th OF to potential average corner OF. The bat may not play up enough to be anything more than a reserve OF. He needs some work on a few phases of his game, even though he is currently demolishing Double A pitching. I like him playing at Double A right now, as he is learning the game along with many other talented prospects. With him being brought along slowly into the American game, he is able to learn with these prospects instead of learning against players at Triple A who have less ability but more experience. I think honing his skill set is more important than facing pitchers with fringier stuff who have a better understanding of how to pitch.
Quote from an industry source last week on Urrutia:
Funny that he hit a homerun, but I hear Urrutia might be up post all-star break.
Ceiling: Average Corner OF
Floor: 4th OF, AAA Depth
Likely: 4th OF
Urrutia seems to have been a solid signing for $775,000. At the very least, he potentially opened up the international market more for the Orioles.