This year he has bulked up considerably from last year, even hitting his first professional home run. Despite being again the youngest players in the league Urias has been one of the most consistent players hitting .317/.382/.400 with only 19 strikeouts in 225 plate appearances. The now 19-year old was deservedly named to the Cal League All Star team.
We caught up with him after a recent game to talk about his progress and goals for this season.
After such a great season in Fort Wayne how did you approach the offseason?
Luis Urias: I spent the first two months playing in the Mexican Winter League before finally taking some time off to be with my family over Christmas. The rest was nice, but I still trained as much as I could. I then went to the Dominican in February to get ready for the season.
Why the Dominican instead of Peoria?
Luis Urias: We [Luis and other Latin American prospects] were invited to a special preseason training in the Dominican. It was practice, but not so much baseball. It was more about conditioning and strength training. They wanted to make sure we were stronger and were not going to get tired half way through the season.
Is that what happened last year when you cooled off over the final month?
Luis Urias: I think so. I didn’t want to tell myself I was tired but the coaches kept telling me I looked like I kept losing weight even though I was still eating as much as I normally did. I also got injured last year and wanted to make sure I was fully recovered from that. I wanted to make sure that I had more strength in my legs.
You look a lot stronger (easily 10-15 more pounds of muscle), are you hoping this will lead to more power? You already have your first professional home run.
Luis Urias: Thank you. Everyone said it doesn’t count because it was an inside the park home run. One day I will hit one over the fence. I think if I do I might run like [Batolo] Colon. It won’t happen often so I will have to enjoy it. I know I am not a power hitter, but I need to be able to hit the ball far enough to keep the fielders from playing in too much.
Is running something you are trying to do more of this year?
Luis Urias: I am just trying to stay with my goal. I know I am not a power hitter, and more of a contact hitter. My goal is just to try and get on base as often as possible. Whether that’s walking, bunting, or getting any type of hit, I just want to get on base and give my team the best chance to win. If I get on base and think I can steal second, they gave me permission but I am more concerned with just getting on base.
Speaking of getting on base, you are walking at a higher rate than last year what has changed?
Luis Urias: Every at-bat I am trying to get more confidence in being selective at the plate. I am looking for my pitch to hit, and while everyone says that even when you look and get that pitch its not always easy to hit it. Every time I do though I build that confidence to continue. I am not trying to work the count but rather get confidence by hitting my pitch. It is also my goal though to walk more times than I strike out (currently at 18 base-on-balls and 21 strikeouts).
This year you have been all over the diamond defensively, do you have a preference of where you play?
Luis Urias: Well last year I played mainly second with a few games at both short and third. I played mainly shortstop in Mexico with a few games at third. Second base is my favorite though just because it is the easiest position. I know I can get the ball from any position but sometimes when I am on the other side of the infield with the longer throws I mess up more and lose confidence. At second the throws are shorter and I always know I can make them easily. I am working on my throws from short and third though so I can play anywhere the Padres need me.
What’s your goal for the season?
Luis Urias: Continue to be a good contact hitter, reach base a lot and improve my defense. My number one goal though is to help the team win. When we win everything is better.