Urias flashing potential in Tatis' absence

Former prospect homers in series-clinching win: 'I just feel like me'

August 18th, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- Though certainly stole the spotlight upon his big league arrival, he wasn't the Padres' only highly regarded middle-infield prospect entering the 2019 season.

, the club's No. 2 prospect to begin the year, has replaced San Diego's injured former top prospect at shortstop. While Urias has quietly come on strong in August, he served up the biggest reminder to date of his potential in the Padres’ 3-2 victory over the Phillies on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.

After ripping a 101.9 mph liner to left field for a single in the second inning, Urias teed off for a two-out, two-run homer to right field in the fourth to put the Padres ahead, 2-1. Though the Phillies tied it in the sixth, catcher put San Diego ahead for good with a solo shot to cap a career-best four-hit performance on his 27th birthday.

As for the 22-year-old Urias, he showcased his ability to spray hits to all fields and connect with two strikes. He entered the game with just two knocks in his last 42 at-bats in which he was down to his final strike, but he doubled that total on Sunday.

"I would say I just feel like me," Urias said. "It feels good to be in a position that I can say I really feel like I’m doing my own thing.”

Those are both signs that this does not seem to be the same Urias who struggled to an .083 average in April before being sent back to the Minors, or the one who hit .097 in his first 10 games upon his return to the Majors in July.

Urias is hitting .333 with a .442 on-base percentage over his last 11 games. Sunday also marked his fourth multi-hit effort during that span, something he did not do in any of his first 24 games this season.

“Sometimes when you struggle, you start thinking too much,” Urias said. “The game starts going so fast. I would say, finally, I’m in a position where I’m enjoying it."

These are exactly the types of numbers the Padres are hoping to see from Urias. Though his season average still sits at .194, Urias has raised his on-base percentage to .342, easily above the Major League average of .323.

"His bread and butter will be getting on base," Padres manager Andy Green said. "You still look up right now and see whatever his batting average is, but his on-base [average] is above league average. He’s going to continue do that, and that’s all we’re concerned with.

"If he hits some balls out of the ballpark, great. But I think for us, he’s been getting on base the last few weeks at a lot better pace."

It may be easy to forget that Urias was an offensive force in the Minors, especially given Tatis' sensational breakout campaign in which he compiled a .317/.379/.590 slash line with 22 homers in 84 games with San Diego.

Yet Urias hit .315 with a .998 OPS and 19 home runs in 73 games at Triple-A El Paso this season. Even Tatis, who jumped straight from Double-A to the Majors, batted just .286 with an .862 OPS and 16 home runs in 88 games with Double-A San Antonio last year.

"Both those guys look really good," veteran first baseman said. "When they were both here, they were both thriving off each other for energy. It’s fun to see, and with [Urias] starting to get it going, these are going to be two guys that make a big impact for us when they're both here."

While Padres fans will likely need to wait until 2020 to see that duo reunited up the middle, they still have another 39 games to enjoy Urias' rise this season.

"Overall, we’re pleased with where he is," Green said. "We know he’s out there working every day, and we know he’s impacting games and helping us win."