Blue Jays' Urena finds it fun to be No. 1

Club's newly minted top prospect goes 4-for-5 with homer, three RBIs

Richard Urena is batting .373 through 33 second-half games in the Florida State League. (Tom Hagerty/

By Josh Jackson / | July 29, 2016 2:14 AM

One night after ranked Richard Urena as the Blue Jays' top prospect, the 20-year-old shortstop showed why.

Urena homered in his second straight game, going 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored Thursday as Class A Advanced Dunedin lost to visiting Lakeland, 11-6.

"He's a lot more mature and focused on his ultimate goal," Dunedin manager Ken Huckaby said after Urena posted a five-hit game on July 9. "His work every day shows that he's working for a lot more than just this level. He's a real athletic kid and he wants to play every day. He just shows up every day ready to play."

The native of the Dominican Republic impressed in his first season of full-season ball last year, cutting down his fielding errors while tallying 37 extra-base hits and hitting .262 over 121 games after committing to switch-hitting in 2014.

This year,'s No. 91 overall prospect has been even more consistent, batting .299/.344/.447 with eight homers, 18 doubles and seven triples in 93 Florida State League games. In the second half, he's 50-for-134 with a .413 on-base percentage and 13 extra-base hits over 33 games.

His two-run homer off left-hander Matt Hall -- which came on the first pitch he saw in the game and cleared the fence in left-center field in the first inning -- marked the first time he's gone yard as a right-handed hitter.

"He's done well all year from both sides of the plate in just his third full season of switch-hitting," Huckaby said earlier this month.

Urena struck out in a four-pitch matchup with Hall -- the Tigers' No. 23 prospect -- in the fourth, but he bounced back with an infield hit to shortstop A.J. Simcox to lead off the sixth.

Facing righty and 17th-ranked Detroit prospect Austin Kubitza in the seventh and ninth, Urena collected a pair of RBI knocks through the right side.

"He makes good contact, can steal some bases and has good power in his bat," Huckaby said. "He's not someone the other team can take lightly."

Anthony Alford, formerly Toronto's top prospect and now No. 3 in the system, had two walks, a stolen base and scored three times. That performance came one night after he tripled twice and doubled.

Third-ranked Tigers prospect Christin Stewart went 2-for-4 with his Florida State League-leading 23rd homer, a double and three RBIs. Kade Scivicque, ranked 20th in the Detroit organization, was 3-for-5 with a homer and two runs scored.

Hall (3-1) allowed three runs -- two earned -- on three hits and three walks while striking out eight over six innings.

Kubitza notched his first FSL save after yielding three runs -- two earned -- on four hits and a walk with two strikeouts over three frames.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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