Urias, Liriano off to big starts in Winter League

Urias, Liriano off to big starts in Winter League

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The youngest player in the Padres' Minor League system last season is off to a hot start in the Mexican Pacific League.

Infielder Luis Urias, 18, is off to a 10-for-25 start with five RBIs in eight games with Obregon at second base.

Urias and Ruddy Giron were the youngest players in the low Single A Midwest League last season -- each debuting shortly after their 18th birthdays. Giron is a winter ball teammate of Padres catcher Austin Hedges with Escogido of the Dominican Republic Winter League.

After hitting .400 in their first weeks with Fort Wayne last summer, both Urias and Giron finished with strong debut seasons.

Giron, who turned 18 last Jan. 4, hit .285 with nine homers and 49 RBIs in 98 games with Fort Wayne. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound native of the Dominican Republic was the youngest player in the Midwest League until Urias arrived. Giron also had 15 steals, although he made 24 errors in 90 starts at shortstop.

Top Prospects: Giron, SD

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Urias, who didn't turn 18 until June 3, was 11-for-31 (.355) in 10 games for short-season Single A Tri-City before being promoted to Fort Wayne. He hit .290 in 51 games for the TinCaps, making 38 starts at second, five at third and eight at short. He committed only eight errors. He is a native of Magdalena de Kino, Mexico.

Both right-handed hitters were in the Padres' Arizona Instructional League camp before reporting to their respective Winter League teams.

The two most active Padres in winter ball thus far are shortstop Juan Carlos Gamboa and outfielder Alberth Martinez in Mexico.

Gamboa, 24, a Rule 5 pick from the Mets last December, is hitting .279 in 61 at-bats with Mochis. He has 10 RBIs and no errors in 14 games. Martinez is 4-for-22 in 14 games for Magallanes.

Outfielder Nick Torres, 22, is off to the fastest start among three Padres position players with the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League. Torres, a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, is 6-for-21 (.286) with a homer and two RBIs in five games. Torres hit .275 with three homers and 30 RBIs in 52 games with high Single A Lake Elsinore last summer after hitting .326 with two homers and 40 RBIs in 77 games with Fort Wayne.

Top Prospects: Torres, SD

Third baseman Gabriel Quintana is off to a 4-for-20 start in the AFL while infielder Fernando Perez, a product of Otay Ranch High, is off to a 1-for-12 start.

All four right-handed Padres minor league pitchers in the AFL have appeared only in relief thus far. Ryan Butler (3.00 ERA) and Eric Yardley (4.50 ERA) each have earned a win. Elliot Morris has allowed a run in four innings (2.25 ERA). Cody Hebner is 0-1 and has allowed two runs in as many innings.

Outfielder Rymer Liriano is 5-for-16 with a homer and five RBIs in five games with Licey in the Dominican Republic. Hedges also has a homer and is off to a 4-for-18 start.

Hedges' first career homer