He's playing, and hitting. His .300 batting average was fifth in the New York-Penn League in 2014. His 20 doubles were tied for second. His 122 total bases were third. The counting stats overstate his case a little as he was the the NYP leader in games played (75) and at bats (283). Even that though is something Urena can be proud of: he played in all but one of the Cyclones' games and was the only player on the circuit to play in more than 71 games and pick up more than 283 at bats. Durability is a good thing, and at age 19, Urena played everyday for almost three months.
As Cyclones hitting coach Benny diStefano said, "The bottom line is, this kid has a lot of ability."
In more advanced metrics, Urena's 128 wRC+ was 18th in the NYP. He was one of only four teenagers in the top 30, and was second among all players under 20. Again, for a hitter, younger is better.
The Mets originally signed Urena for $425,000 in September 2011. They assigned him to the Dominican Summer League in 2012 and then the Gulf Coast League in 2013, so his rise to Brooklyn for 2014 was well-paced.
Urena, a switch-hitter, and a natural righty, learned to switch-hit at age 12 at the urging of his manager with his RBI team. He shrugged, both physically and verbally explaining whether it was hard to learn a new swing from the left side.
"I always had the ability to hit as a lefty so I just had to work on it," he said.
Now, the challenge is to keep his right-handed swing sharp because he has so many more at bats as a lefty (233) than as a righty (50) in 2014 with Brooklyn. In truth, his numbers from both sides were strong.
Urena specifically pointed to the fact that he doesn't see many lefties as making it tougher to stay in rhythm from the right side. Whatever struggles he felt, barely registered in his top line numbers. However, his strikeout rate was lower as a righty. diStefano tied his mechanics to his approach as a right-handed hitter.
"He doesn’t get nearly as many reps, so his swing’s a little longer and he jumps at pitches more," the coach said.
Urena, who turned 20 on September 1, is still carrying baby fat. His body does not stand out on the field, until he gets in a batter's box and starts punching line drives and it matters more for his work defensively than offensively. He has the underlying ability in his hands and feet to stay at third for now. However, he does not have a step to lose as he ages if he gets heavier or slower. Defensively, Urena was most focused this year on his throwing, where he was "trying not to side arm and [instead] throw it over the shoulder," he said.
In 2014, Urena popped five home runs for the Cyclones. He's conscious of the balance between making contact and hitting for power. He and diStefano focused on loading his weight on his back leg, and finding consistency in his landing and thus hand path so that, in Urean's words, "it would give me a little more power when I hit the ball."
"Before, I was trying to get more contact. [My swing] was similar, just not as fast and hard," he said.
Among every-day third basemen, 20 hit more than 10 home runs in 2014, but only five hit 20 or more. It certainly seems reasonable to think that Urena can grow into roughly 15 home runs annually, which would put him comfortably in the middle of the modern pack with batting average/on-base skills and average defense filling out the rest of his value. Jeff Paternostro of Amazin’ Avenue also examined his power potential.
The Mets rewarded Urena, and his teammate and more heralded prospect, shortstop Amed Rosario, with a promotion to the Savannah Sand Gnats for the South Atlantic League playoffs. Urena was 2-for-7 with a hit-by-pitch and a walk in the Gnats two postseason games, while hitting third. Rosario hit sixth. Urena's bat is ahead of Rosario's at the moment, while Rosario, the shortstop, offers more positional value. They should form a very, very interesting left side of the infield for the Gnats in 2014.
Overall, Urena somewhere in the Top 20 of Mets prospects.