Scouting Yankees Prospect #32: John Urick
Urick Is A Solid All-Around First Baseman
Urick Is A Solid All-Around First Baseman

Posted Jan 5, 2006


The Yankees drafted John Urick in the 22nd round of the 2003 MLB Draft out of Oklahoma State University. The grandson of the legendary Whitey Herzog, Urick has one of the sweetest left-handed swings in the Yankees' farm system. Ranking #32 among the Top 50 Yankees' prospects, here's a scouting report on John Urick.

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Vital Statistics:
Name: John Urick
Position: First Base
DOB: February 22, 1982
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 215
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

After an inauspicious professional debut with the Staten Island Yankees in 2003 where he hit just .226 in limited NY-Penn League action, John Urick opened some eyes in the organization with a breakout campaign with the Battle Creek Yankees in his first full year, hitting .282 with 29 doubles, 15 home runs, and 65 RBI.

Drawing comparisons to former Yankees and Mets first baseman John Olerud, Urick has the same approach at the plate and the same easy left-handed swing.

"We're both tall, lanky guys that can hit for power and average," Urick said of the Olerud comparisons after his 2004 season. "Olerud makes everything look so effortless in his swing and I've been told that I'm that way at the plate. I feel like I can be that type of player in the Major Leagues. I think I have proven to myself and to the organization that I can eventually make that leap."

Coming off his tremendous 2004 season, John Urick headed to Tampa in the Florida State League with a lot of expectations. And when he began the year hitting .299 with 5 home runs in his first 20 games, Urick was seemingly well on his way to an even better year.

With his stock on the rise, Urick injured his right foot and initially tried to play through the injury and his numbers began going south before being shelved for six weeks. After that, it was tough to Urick to rediscover his early-season groove.

"I think I struggled with a couple of slumps this past year, but I think I proved I can play at that level and hopefully I proved I can play at the next level," Urick told PinstripesPlus.com in a recent interview. "I had the foot injury this past year too, the stress fracture to my right foot. It was first the time I was ever injured, or actually, it was the first time on the DL."

Dealing with the first true injury is one of the hardest things to deal with for a young player, but it also helps them learn how to battle back.

"The foot feels really good going through my workouts," the 23-year old first baseman said. "I think I might have been favoring the foot before I went on the disabled list, so I think I was less aggressive at the plate. I was using my lower half more so it had an effect. But it was fine once it was healed."

Modest about the effects of his injured foot, the proof was in his numbers. With 10 of his 11 home runs this past season coming prior to his stint on the disabled list, and just one home run in his final 23 games, Urick obviously was effected by the injury.

Despite the injury-riddled year with the Tampa Yankees, posting sub-par numbers as a result, John Urick doesn't look at his 2005 season as a lost year. With the Yankees placing him on the AAA reserved roster for this past December's Rule V Draft, virtually protecting him from being selected by another team, the Yankees and Urick feel comfortable moving on.

"I think so, I really do," Urick said as to whether or not he'll be playing in AA in 2006. "Look, we all need to improve in a lot of areas, for sure. But taking how much I've learned, and how much I've improved from past seasons, I think I'm ready. Going to Trenton is my ultimate goal for next year. I've moved up a level every year I've played, but I think a lot of it has to do with what the Yankees decide. My goal is to be there Opening Day."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2005 Tampa .238 340 23 11 46 38 0 32 56 .316 .409

2004

Battle Creek

.282

397

29

15

65

61

1

52

85

.368

.469

2003

Staten Island

.226

186

9

0

16

18

2

36

36

.345

.274



Batting and Power. Urick is not your prototypical slugging first baseman. He uses an advanced approach at the plate, using great patience to wait for his pitch to hit instead of swinging at the pitches opposing pitchers want him to hit. He's a very good gap hitter that uses the entire field, taking balls the other way with the best of them. Urick can pile up the walk totals and while his 2005 average may not show it, he can hit for a high average. He projects to be .290+ hitter who can hit for 20 home runs or so, racking up a ton of doubles.

Base Running and Speed. Again, unlike most first baseman, Urick isn't obsessed with getting bigger. Instead, he works tirelessly on improving his quickness and agility on the field and on the base paths. He's not going to steal too many bases, but an intelligent base runner, he certainly won't hurt his team with silly base running mistakes.

Defense. While Urick will be the first one to say he's got a lot of work to do defensively, he's much better than he gives himself credit for. He's very solid around the bag and boasts quick feet and good range at first base. He's one of the better defensive first base prospects in the Yankees' farm system.

Projection. If he was playing in any other organization besides the large-market Yankees, it would be a slam dunk to project John Urick as a starting first baseman in the Majors. He projects to more of a John Olerud or Doug Mientkiewicz type at the Major League level and historically, especially recently, the Yankees like a little more juice from the first base position. He's a very good hitter and he continually provides in clutch situations. If Eric Duncan does in fact move over to first base, Urick will have a powerful slugger to compete against. Urick projects to be a starting first baseman at the Major League level, the question will be, will it be with the Yankees.

ETA. 2008. A numbers crunch could push Urick's ETA to the Major Leagues a little quicker, although perhaps not in a fashion he would like. The Yankees are going to have to protect the likes of Eric Duncan, Tim Battle, and Tyler Clippard on the 40-man roster in 2006, and with John Urick needing to be protected once again as well, he could be the victim of a numbers crunch and it seems unlikely the Yankees would be able to hide Urick on the AAA roster a second time. He's just too good. He'll be in Trenton for the 2006 season as the first baseman and designated hitter, most likely splitting time with Eric Duncan at both spots.

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