O's Urrutia smacks career-best five hits

Triple-A Norfolk outfielder falls just one shy of the team record

By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com | July 10, 2013 9:57 PM ET

He might not be battling for a spot in the MLB All-Star Game like the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig, but in Henry Urrutia, the Orioles appear to have found a potentially prodigious Cuban prospect of their own.

Urrutia, who signed with the Orioles for $778,500 last July, set a career high with five hits for Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday. He scored three times and drove in a run as the Tides fell to the Gwinnett Braves, 10-8.

The outfielder is hitting .365 through 13 games since being promoted from Double-A Bowie. The 26-year-old batted.365 in 52 games in the Eastern League. He popped seven home runs, drove in 37 and produced a .983 OPS.

Urrutia has hit safely in nine straight and in 11 of his 13 games since the promotion -- after ending his time in Bowie with an eight-game hitting streak. The five-hit game was one knock shy of the team record of six set by Roy Foster on July 17, 1969 in a 12-inning game at Rochester.

Facing Atlanta's No. 10 prospect Cody Martin, Urrutia grounded a 1-1 pitch into left field with a man on in the first inning. He followed with a ground-ball single to center to lead off the third, a one-out ground-ball single to right in the fourth and another ground-ball single to center in the sixth.

Against reliever Joe Beimel in the seventh, Urrutia lined his fifth hit -- a 3-2 single -- into center field, scoring Xavier Avery for the tying run.

Urrutia tried and failed to defect from Cuba in 2010, and he was suspended for making the attempt the following season. Though he succeeded in defecting a year later, he was held up by visa issues while living in Haiti. He did not play in an organized game between the beginning of his suspension and his arrival in Spring Training this year.

His performance at Double-A turned enough heads to earn the 26-year-old a spot on the World Team at the 2013 Futures Game, which will take place at 2 p.m. ET on All-Star Sunday. The Orioles' June Minor League Player of the Month will join left-handed pitcher and Baltimore's No. 4 prospect Eduardo Rodriguez.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder profiles as a corner outfielder former Major League scout Bernie Pleskoff wrote on MLB.com on July 6. Pleskoff referred to Urrutia as having an "outstanding physical presence," adding that he has a swing that capitalizes on his long arms and legs to cover the plate with a line-drive approach.

"Urrutia's hitting tools will be the factor that initially advances his career," Pleskoff wrote. "Ultimately, as he gets used to his new environment and learns the abilities of pitchers here, I believe he will develop home run power."

Urrutia's father, Ermidelio, was a professional ball player in Cuba, and Pleskoff noted that the younger Urrutia has a mature approach and a mechanically strong swing for a player with limited stateside experience.

"I look for Urrutia to be in Baltimore before this season ends," Pleskoff wrote. "He has the tools and the experience to help the Orioles as an outfielder of designated hitter."

Alex Liddi, playing in his third game with Norfolk since being traded from the Seattle organization, was 2-for-3 with a home run and five RBIs. Emerging knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa made his first debut for Norfolk, allowing six runs -- five earned -- on six hits over 4 2/3 innings.

Jake Seiner is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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