For right-handed Marlins prospect Jose Urena, there really is no place like home. Just take a look at his statistics.
The 21-year-old scattered four hits over seven innings in the Class A Advanced Jupiter Hammerheads' 2-0 win over the visiting Bradenton Marauders.
"I was feeling good. We were working on throwing the two-seam [fastball] all the time because they don't like the two-seam," said Urena, who struck out five hitters and did not issue a walk. "[I threw] the changeup and a couple sliders. When I got men on base, I was using them because they kept hitting ground balls."
The victory helped Miami's No. 9 prospect improve to 7-2 overall on the season and 4-0 at home, where his splits are vastly different.
The 6-foot-3 native of the Dominican Republic has a 1.50 ERA at home and a 5.73 ERA on the road. He's yielded six runs over 36 innings at Roger Dean Stadium compared with 25 runs in 37 2/3 innings elsewhere. He's allowed one long ball at home, where he's held opponents to a .198 average. On his travels, he's served up five homers and seen batters tee off to a .273 average.
"When you are at home, you have the fans and you try to be better," Urena said. "You don't want to let somebody beat you at home and you want to be better at home."
Historically, the Florida State League has been the most difficult environment for hitters to play in. Since 2008, no league in pro ball has seen fewer runs scored per game, and no full-season league has a worse on-base percentage or home run rate.
On the circuit, Roger Dean Stadium also sports the lowest home run rate and the second-worst run rate since 2010.
To put it another way, the Hammerheads' home is where balls go to die. And Urena couldn't be happier.
For him, the better pitching environment has somewhat negated the jump in level. He was 9-6 with a 3.38 ERA in 27 games -- including 22 starts -- with Class A Greensboro in the South Atlantic League last year. He has maintained a similar strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.5 in 2012, 3.9 in 2013) and lowered his opponents' average from .266 to .239
"Here, they wait for good pitches and they don't swing a lot. They only swing at good pitches in the zone," said Urena, signed by the Marlins as a non-drafted free agent in 2008. "In Greensboro, they swing for the fence all of the time."
Catcher Wilfredo Gimenez was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs and Pete Andrelczyk worked around a hit over two innings of relief to earn his first save of the year.
Bradenton starter Adrian Sampson (2-3) surrendered two runs on nine hits while striking out five batters over six innings.