Henry Urrutia has been a mainstay in Mexican baseball since before his affiliated days were even over. Throughout that time he has shown in both Liga Mexicana de Béisbol in the summer and Liga Mexicana del Pacífico in the winter that he was every bit the hitter that he was throughout his affiliated career. In fact, his summer and winter tours did a great job of showing the world that he was yet another example of the Major League Baseball prospect machine having given up on a certain player type far too early.
At least, that appeared to be the case until the 2021-2022 winter in LMP where he struggled mightily with both Sultanes de Monterrey and Águilas de Mexicali. He struggled so much that after only 24 games he found himself out of a job. That was unheard of for the Cuban slugger who had never had to look elsewhere for work since joining the Mexican pro circuits. What seemed like a dark time for Urrutia ended up being a blessing in disguise as he found his way to Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana and Gigantes del Cibao. More than just joining the league, he found his swing and has been showing the world yet again that he is a great hitter.
He hasn’t made that many appearances for the Gigantes, only 21 games and 77 plate appearances, but he has been red hot the entire time he has been in the Dominican Republic. He’s slashing .368/.441/.691 over that time with six home runs and eight walks to only nine strikeouts. His OPS+ of 201 has been a driving force behind the Gigantes offensive performance near the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. Every number from Urrutia’s 2021-2022 season in LIDOM paints the picture of a hitter who is controlling the plate and doing virtually whatever he wants with the baseball once it comes out of the pitcher’s hand.
The reality is that there’s nothing to break down as far as Urrutia’s performance goes. This isn’t a situation where a hitter made some sort of mechanical change or tweak. He’s not using a new batting stance, he wasn’t injured, and his approach at the plate remains the same in LIDOM as it was in LMP during the early winter league months. He hit a bad stretch during the beginning of this season, that’s all there is to it, nothing more. He has now done what great hitters do and found his way out of that bad stretch and returned to the same form he showed for years. Just like MLB, a pair of LMP teams gave up on Urrutia far too soon and another league and team are now reaping the benefits of their shortsightedness.
The Las Tunas native could hit another dry spell, sure. But, what’s he’s doing now is more in line with the hitter he has been throughout his career than how he was performing to start the year. Even taking his LMP skid into account he’s slashing .345/.406/.548 in 421 plate appearances over his entire 2021-2022 season. That is, without question, a great season from a great hitter. When Serie del Caribe rolls around this year it’s more than likely Urrutia will be suiting up for a LIDOM team and if that is the case LMP will definitely be kicking themselves. That seems to be a running theme for Urrutia’s career so far, leagues and organizations giving up on a natural-born hitter far too early. One day teams and leagues will learn to not give up on Urrutia at the first sign of a slump, or they won’t and he’ll just keep making them regret their decision. Either way, the one constant is Urrutia and his ability to hit the baseball, give up on that if you want to look foolish.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Pelota Cubana