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Breakout infield prospects Luis Urias and Sheldon Neuse stay hot in AFL

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Urias (Padres) and Neuse (A’s) bring offensive and defensive flexibility

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-All Star Game
Luis Urias
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not difficult to see how big of a fan I am of San Diego Padres infield prospect Luis Urias. I wrote about him early in the season, impressed with the Mexico native who was dominating Double-A at the ripe age of 19.

Urias didn’t turn 20 until the top of June and was selected as a Texas League All-Star representing the San Antonio Missions later that month. I caught up with him in person there and you can read about that here.

The middle infielder is as slick on the field as he is on the controls when he’s playing as his childhood heroes on Playstation’s MLB The Show. Video games these days —especially this one— are astounding in their attention to detail and so is Urias.

Signed almost exactly four years ago, he’s progressed quickly through the Friar’s farm system. He’s been young for the level everywhere he’s played and that was no different this year when he hit .296 with a league-leading .398 OBP, .16 points better than second place finisher Ian Miller, who played in 35 less games.

In the Arizona Fall League, Urias sported a Peoria Javelinas uniform and continued his torrid 2017 pace. The shortstop/second baseman had 17 hits in 17 games played, scoring 11 runs while recording five doubles, two triples and nine RBI.

A 14:5 K:BB ratio distracts you from an uninspiring 0-for-3 on the basepaths. Urias tasted Triple-A El Paso in 2016 and will more than likely start 2018 there as a 20-year old. He’s always performed above level and above expectations but a stopgap seems likely to occupy shortstop at Petco Park with Urias looking at a full-time position in 2019.

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-All Star Game Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Sheldon Neuse, a second round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2016, was traded this past deadline to the Oakland A’s in a deal for relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. I covered that deal here from Oakland’s favorable standpoint.

The Texas native attended border neighbor University of Oklahoma and became a big bopper there for the Sooners. Neuse —like Urias— plays two infield positions at minimum, his at third base and shortstop. He also cameo’d at first base in a game with Double-A Midland this season.

Between Low-A, High-A and Double-A this year, Neuse clubbed 16 home runs while driving in 79 in 117 games. An impressive slash line of .321/.382/.502 accompanied his gaudy numbers while the soon-to-be 23-year old (December 10th) actually fared best at his highest level to date. With the champion RockHounds, he he hit a whopping .373 in 18 games.

Power is projected to be his top tool down the line, but Neuse also runs extremely well. He stole 12 bases in Low-A Hagerstown before the trade and totaled 14 on the season.

After the regular season concluded, Neuse ventured to the Fall League as well, where he suited up for the Mesa Solar Sox. In 22 games, he flexed the power tool with five home runs while also walking seven times. He totaled 49 bases and seven doubles in those 22 games, both tied for second in the AFL. His 20 runs scored is another second place finish.

In Low-A during the 2017 regular season, Neuse hit nine home runs before moving on to knock out seven in High-A. Come 2018, he’ll make an impact in that column with Midland. It’s more than possible he’s in Triple-A Sacramento by midsummer and like Urias, could be a key part of the MLB equation come 2019.