Promotion doesn't slow down Jays' Urena

Toronto's top prospect collects three hits in debut for New Hampshire

Richard Urena has a .290 batting average through 352 Minor League games. (Tom Hagerty/MiLB.com)

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | August 4, 2016 12:20 AM

Richard Urena came into the year hoping to jump up a level. When the Blue Jays obliged, he was quick to demonstrate they made the right call.

Urena, who was named Toronto's top prospect on July 27, went 3-for-5 with a triple and two runs scored in his Double-A debut, helping New Hampshire to a 9-6 win over Akron on Wednesday.

"One of my main goals this year was to play hard, play well and, hopefully, they would advance me," he told the New Hampshire Union Leader through a translator, "but it's to get better and to just continue increasing who I am as a baseball player."

The 20-year-old shortstop torched Class A Advanced Florida State League pitching for a slash line of 305/.351/.447 with 33 extra-base hits and nine steals through 97 games. Over seven games since vaulting to No. 1 for the Blue Jays and No. 89 overall, he's gone 17-for-31 (.548) with two homers, 10 RBIs and eight runs scored.

After reaching on a fielding error by RubberDucks shortstop Todd Hankins in his first at-bat and popping out in his second, the switch-hitting Urena tripled to center off right-handed starter Julian Merryweather in the fifth and singled to left against him in the sixth. He added a ninth-inning base knock off righty Grant Sides.

Urena wasn't the only new face to give the Fisher Cats a boost. Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez-- the Jays' No. 4 and 5 prospects respectively -- debuted in the system after being traded from the Pirates alongside Francisco Liriano for Drew Hutchinson on Monday. McGuire went 1-for-4 with a three-RBI double and a run scored. Ramirez was 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored, an RBI and a walk.

"I see [the new trio] at the plate, the way they battle at the plate, they don't try to do too much but they also know their ability allows them to do a lot," New Hampshire manager Bobby Meacham told the Union Leader. "That's what you usually see in players that are, quote, prospects."

McGuire told the paper he'd been tubing in a river with Altoona Curve teammates when the trade went down, and the joyride was interrupted when one of his pals received a text message asking McGuire to get in touch with the Pittsburgh front office.

"We were just floating it and just hanging out and only one of [my teammates] had their phone on them because we were in the water," he said. "He was like, 'Hey, you need to call the farm director. We think you probably got traded or something because it's urgent.'"

The 21-year-old catcher is batting .259 with 17 doubles through 78 games between the two Eastern League clubs. Though he expressed surprise about the deal, he voiced excitement about closing out the season with the Fisher Cats.

"That's what it's about. Meeting these guys, finishing strong with them and prepare us for next year," he told the Union Leader. "I honestly didn't see it coming as far as the trade, but I'm excited to be part of the Blue Jays."

Ramirez, a 21-year-old outfielder, is hitting .311 with 17 doubles and seven triples through 99 Double-A games.

Ninth-ranked Toronto prospect Rowdy Tellez went 3-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI.

Greg Allen, Cleveland's No. 20 prospect, doubled and scored once for Akron. No. 26 Mike Papi also collected a two-bagger and recorded an outfield assist.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. 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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