This article is part of the Know Your Orioles 40-man series, which features an article about each of the 38 players currently on the Orioles roster. There will be one every weekday until we run out of players.
Ramón Urías was one of the best players on the Orioles a season ago, and he—not Ryan Mountcastle—was the team’s premier rookie. The former waiver claim has positioned himself to take on an everyday role in 2022, but he may need to keep defying expectations to make that happen.
Urías came to the Orioles on February 11, 2020 as a waiver claim from the St. Louis Cardinals. He had spent time at Triple-A in both the 2018 and ‘19 seasons. Before that, Urías was playing his ball back in his native Mexico from 2013 through 2017, where he had returned after a difficult two-season spell in the Texas Rangers organization to begin his professional career. It is a minor miracle that he was able to make that arduous, decade-long climb up the baseball ladder.
Much of 2020 was spent at the Orioles alternate camp for Urías, but he did make his way into 10 big league games that season, posting a tantalizing .967 OPS across 27 plate appearances. That performance, along with his defensive versatility, earned Urías a spot on the club’s opening day roster a season ago.
Urías would play in just 85 games for the Orioles in 2021, due in part to a few nagging injuries as well as a pair of demotions to Triple-A. But the eventual departures of several fellow infielders cleared that way for Urías to get his name penciled into the lineup most days.
A horrid April in which Urías went 6-for-39 with one home run, three walks, and 15 strikeouts, made way for an impressive remainder of the year. Between May 1 and the end of the season, Urías posted an .821 OPS at the big league level with six home runs and 12 doubles over 68 games.
It was an encouraging output, no doubt. Of course, we do need to be wary of some smoke and mirrors at play. Urías posted a .391 BABIP in that stretch from May through September and .369 for the season. That’s not sustainable for anyone, let alone a player with an average exit velocity in the upper-80s.
But even some negative regression is fine for Urías given he can play all over the field. He spent time at shortstop, second base, and third base in 2021. His best marks are at third (2 DRS, 0.5 UZR, 1 OAA in 2021), but he spent most of his time at shortstop.
The Orioles have plenty of decisions to make when it comes to their infield setup in 2022. Rougned Odor was signed just prior to the lockout and seems like the leading candidate to start at second base, although that is far from a guarantee. There are rumors online that the team may actually be interested in free agent shortstop Carlos Correa, which would certainly sew up that position for a while. And whenever a CBA is agreed to there will be some sort of buffer between that day and the start of the season that could see the team add another player or two to the mix.
Regardless of the moves made, Urías is set up to play a crucial role on Brandon Hyde’s roster in 2022. He might be the team’s every day shortstop, or he could play more of a utility role that sees him start in four different positions in the same week.
It is in the long-term that questions linger for the 27-year-old. The Orioles have a cavalcade of intriguing infield prospects on the horizon, some of whom could debut later this year. At the same time, Urías is still young enough and under team control for long enough to possibly figure into the team’s future as well. How he performs in the upcoming season could play a crucial role in determining how the team’s decision makers view him moving forward.
End-of-season prediction: There is always that chance that a utility player with multiple minor league options remaining on a team still far off from competing could ride the minor league shuttle all summer long. But his performance in 2021 has earned Urías an extended opportunity to stick on the big league roster.
Barring any injuries, Urías should stay in Baltimore all season long, see time all over the field, and play in over 120 games. It’s tough to see a scenario in which he matches his performance from last season, though. Even still, the end result should be a more than serviceable infielder that keeps himself in the picture for the Orioles in 2023.
Previously: Félix Bautista, Logan Gillaspie, Isaac Mattson, Cionel Pérez, Bryan Baker, Rougned Odor, Joey Krehbiel, Tyler Nevin, Kyle Bradish, Rylan Bannon, Yusniel Díaz, Kelvin Gutiérrez, Kevin Smith, Terrin Vavra, D.L. Hall, Jahmai Jones, Bruce Zimmermann, Mike Baumann, Ryan McKenna, Dean Kremer, Keegan Akin, Jorge López
Tomorrow: Dillon Tate