The buzz about Henry Urrutia has been building since he homered in his first home at-bat for the Bowie Baysox.
The 26-year-old was wildly successful at the Double-A level, hitting seven home runs and 16 doubles, driving in 37 runs and producing a .365/.433/.550 slash line in 52 games in Bowie. Last Wednesday, Urrutia was selected to participate in the All-Star Futures Game during the MLB's All-Star festivities in New York City. A day later, Orioles manager Buck Showalter announced that Urrutia was being promoted to Triple-A Norfolk.
“He was a guy that draws your eyesight to him when he plays,” Showalter told our fine intern, Daniel Gallen.
His height may have a little something to do with that. Urrutia is 6-foot-5 and listed at 200 pounds, challenging the Baysox to find him a proper pair of pants when he first joined the club.
He is also a left-handed batter who can hit with power. He has drawn 27 walks in 57 total minor-league games, giving him a .426 on-base percentage. And he has a strong throwing arm.
Last month, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said Urrutia, who is batting .235 with just one extra base hit (a double) and one RBI in his first five games with the Norfolk Tides, is “absolutely” an option to help the O's this season.
“He looks like he is an everyday major league ballplayer,” said Duquette, who gave Urrutia a $778,500 signing bonus last July. “He has all the skills. He just needs a little more experience.”
The good news is there is no real urgency to get him to the majors. The Orioles are in good shape in the outfield with Nate McLouth, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, who make up one of the league’s best all-around outfield trios and who have sat out just 13 games combined. And Chris Dickerson and Danny Valencia have been solid off the bench when called upon.
Urrutia, a Cuban defector who before spring training hadn't played competitive baseball since 2010, can focus solely on getting adjusted to Triple-A pitching and his new surroundings. He can enjoy the spotlight of the All-Star Futures Game, something Orioles fans will want to tune in for. He can watch the Orioles continue to compete for a playoff spot from afar.
And if he keeps building the buzz by hitting the ball like he did in Bowie, Urrutia might get to join them before season’s end.