The Minnesota Twins try to strike gold again in the international free agent market as they officially agree to terms with center fielder Misael Urbina.
As expected, the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday signed international prospect Misael Urbina to a $2.75 million deal, with another $300,000 applied to a college fund, a sum total of $3.050,000 million, the fourth largest bonus ever received by a Venezuelan player. The 16-year-old outfielder was one of the top-rated players available this year. He was ranked 3rd by MLB.com, 10th by Baseball America and 12th overall by Fangraphs. He is considered to have above-average speed, hit and field tools, with an average arm and below average power.
The young Venezuelan projects well as a future lead-off batter. He is a solid contact hitter with plus speed to steal bases along with developing line drive power. Defensively, Urbina shows promise as a smooth center-fielder with plenty of range.
His plus speed serves him well in both phases of the games. He was clocked at 6.68 seconds in the 60-yard run at the MLB Columbia International Showcase last November and a 6.88 at the Venezuela Showcase in February but reportedly has since been timed in the 6.5-6.6 range. That last time seems a bit questionable as Byron Buxton ran a 6.60 60-yard dash in his draft showcase. In any case, that Urbina can run is undeniable.
"“A special young man. He has the natural profile of a center fielder. He has all the tools, something that is not easy to find in the baseball’s premium positions (center fielder, shortstop, catcher and starting pitcher) “"
“Misa” Urbina just turned sixteen in April, but he has held his own in the Venezuelan Winter League since age thirteen in a parallel development program playing against many older, professional players. One of the youngest players in the signing pool this year, the six-foot, 185 pounder has a long way to go but has many things going his way.
His father, Henry Centeno (not to be confused with the former Fort Myers pitcher from last season) played professionally in Venezuela as a second baseman and served ten years as a scout for Cleveland before losing his life in a 2009 traffic accident. Urbina was raised by his mother, never having met his father, but he has the bloodline.
He likes his Playstation and listening to Reggaeton music. He admired Colorado Rockies outfielder Gerardo Parra growing up. He now likes to watch Eddie Rosario. “I hope to play with him one day,” he says. From all accounts, he was raised well.
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Urbina on his work ethic (translated from Spanish):
"“Keep working hard because this is a difficult sport. To get what you want, you have to keep fighting”, he advises those who want to listen and begin to walk the path that has just begun. “Baseball gives you a lot of things, but not overnight. You must have discipline, humility, work, respect for coaches. You have to work very hard, always with the humility to fulfill that dream. “"
In watching game and batting practice videos from MLB´s International Prospect Showcase in February I noted that Urbina appeared to be developing a left leg kick at the beginning his swing that he hadn’t displayed during national showcases in November and January. It’s a more fluid swing that brings more pull power to left and left-center field. He has. slim but solid frame with long arms A fast and smooth runner on the bases and in the outfield. Impressive all around for a then fifteen-year-old-kid.
The Twins are working with a bonus pool of $6,025,400 million. Dominican shortstop Felix Rosa and Venezuelan right fielder Alexander Pena are expected to sign with the Twins in the coming days for $200,000 each. They signed the now 18-year-old second baseman Yunior Severino last winter for $2.5 million after his contract with the Braves was voided. Severino had been MLB’s 20th ranked international prospect in 2016. His bonus applies to this year. That should leave $375,400 in the bank for other signings, though I think its quite possible that the reported $300,000 college fund addendum to Urbina´s bonus will count against this year´s pool.
I like what I’ve read and seen of young Venezuelan. While his signing lacks the glitter that surrounded the acquisition of Miguel Sano, Misa Urbina has the total package that gives him a fighting chance to develop into an impact major league player sometime in the next decade.