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'Sky is the limit' for Orioles prospect Urrutia

The hits, RBIs and overall offensive production have come at a consistent level really ever since Henry Urrutia first stepped on the field for the Bowie Baysox in mid-April.
Whether the 26-year-old Cuban outfield prospect gets an opportunity with the Orioles this season is yet to be seen.
It's also unclear how Urrutia fits long-term into a Baltimore outfield that currently consists of All-Star center fielder Adam Jones, a standout right fielder in Nick Markakis and a former All-Star in left fielder Nate McLouth who, at 31, is in the midst of maybe the best season of his career.
Regardless, Urrutia was productive early on despite whatever rust came along with being nearly three years removed from playing in a competitive baseball game because of trouble defecting from Cuba, and he's only gotten better the last two months as he's shaken off whatever rust there was while also continuing to acclimate himself to baseball in the United States.
Urrutia was named to the Eastern League All-Star Game Wednesday. He was also selected to represent the World Team in the Futures Game.
Urrutia signed with the Orioles last July to a deal that included a $778,500 signing bonus.
"The year's going pretty good," a translator said for Urrutia before a recent Baysox game. "He's kind of surprised even himself with the way he started off after missing a couple years of playing, but the hard work he put up has helped him do what he's doing now. ...
"Coming here, he already had in his mind that he knew how to play the game. It's a little different than the one he had played. Here is a little bit more professional. But he really feels that everything is coming along the right way."
Urrutia leads the Eastern League in batting average (.365), ranks second in on-base percentage (.433) and fourth in slugging percentage (.550). He's reached base at least once in 49 of the 52 games he's played in with the Baysox.
Urrutia hit a respectable .286 in nine games during April, batted .348 during May and is hitting .425 in 19 June games.
So far this month, Urrutia has reached base in 39 of his 81 plate appearances with four home runs and 17 RBIs. He has two hits or more in nine of the last 14 games he has played in.
And he's been consistently good against both right- and left-handed pitching. He's hitting .374 against righties and .340 against lefties.
"I would describe him as a guy that can do a lot of damage quickly," Baysox manager Gary Kendall said. "He's a guy that can make adjustments. He's a guy that can turn a game around. If you get a couple runners on base, he's a guy who can hit something in the alley or hit something out of the ballpark.
"He's got game-changing-type bat potential at this level, and that's really what I've noticed about him offensively."
Kendall was also complimentary of the strides Urrutia has made as a base-runner and from a defensive standpoint in the outfield.
"What I've been tickled to death with is his work ethic and his focus on getting better on the bases and defensively," Kendall said. "He's been consistent offensively, but he's really picked it up defensively, and he makes plays defensively through his hard work. And overall, his base-running has greatly improved - his reads and reactions on the bases."
Once again, it remains unclear in what capacity Urrutia will help the Orioles at the major league level this season, if at all.
But whether it is for Baltimore or another organization, Kendall said Urrutia has the tools to one day be successful at the major-league level.
"Did I think Manny Machado was a big leaguer last year when he came here? I certainly did," Kendall said. "But did I think he'd hit .322 in his second year? No. So players can exceed what you think because of the tools that they bring. Manny had those tools, and Henry has a lot of those same tools, so I guess the sky is the limit with a player like that."

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