It’s not like the Baltimore Orioles need any type of offensive boost but it looks like they’ll get it anyway. News broke Thursday afternoon that O’s prospect Henry Urrutia is expected to get the call as soon as this weekend.
Urrutia had an unlikely path to the MLB, much like most defected Cubans do. After several attempts to illegally flee his home country, he finally succeeded after hiding on the coast of Holguin in tall bushes for over 10 days. After a three day boat ride, he landed on the coast of the Dominican Republic with big league dreams.
It’s starting to feel like Cubans are taking over — especially after Yoenis Cespedes putting on a show at this year’s Home Run Derby and Yasiel Puig setting the league on fire since early June. The reason for that being player development and organized baseball leagues are much more advanced in Cuba than it is across the rest of Latin America. Being exposed to a high level of competition at such a young age has directly affected Urrutia’s ability to move up the minor league ranks so quickly.
Since signing with the Orioles, the left-handed outfielder has posted exceptional numbers at both AA and AAA. In 260 at bats, Urrutia has a triple slash of an average of .366 and seven home runs with 43 RBIs. The 26-year-old projects to be an above average defender and hasn’t committed a single error in 63 games split between right and left field.
As you can see, he has spectacular minor league numbers. That can’t possibly translate to the Majors, right?
Wrong. I actually believe Urrutia has the potential to continue his torrid pace at the major-league level. Considering he’s already 26 years old, he’s obviously a much more polished hitter than the typical recalled prospect and that’s reflected by a BB/K ratio of 0.67 in 2013.
Don’t expect a high home run total but he does possess solid gap power and the ability to drive the ball opposite field. He’s also been described as very humble and often shook the hand of umpires prior to the beginning of games. He’s a very likable guy and you’ll find yourself rooting for him regardless of where your loyalties lie.
You’re probably thinking, “this couldn’t possibly get any better!” But you’re actually wrong again. Stop that. He’s 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds. He’s humungous. He’s a switch hitter, although the Oriole’s claim they only intend on using him from the left side. He’s under team control for six-plus seasons. Seriously, I’m not making this stuff up. I don’t have a clue why he’s flown under the radar for so long.
He won’t fly under the radar much longer. I think he will come up and make an immediate impact, hitting for high average and scoring a ton of runs in such a loaded O’s lineup. He’s drawn comparisons to teammate Nick Markakis — just a bit more Cuban obviously.
Buck Showalter will more than likely use Urrutia as a utility outfielder and full time designated hitter. As long as he hits well, he will receive every day at bats.