Throughout spring training and the early part of the season, shortstop seemed to be Luis Urias’ job full-time. That he would be getting the majority of the starts and wouldn’t play third base or anywhere else. The problem was, the old shortstop was still there. That’s like starting work at a new company and the person who had your job previously is still hanging around trying to help do your job.
Urias doesn’t need any more training or development. He’s earned the starting job and he’s ready for it. Now that Arcia is out of the picture and there’s no one to compete for starts with, it’s sink-or-swim time for Urias. Take off the water wings, take away the pool noodles and the kickboards. Can Urias handle shortstop or not?
The Brewers have been quite clear throughout the past few months that they needed to see Urias at shortstop and see if he can handle it. The original plan likely had him earning more playing time last year, but a number of setbacks prevented that from happening. He’s certainly played well enough in spring to earn the job and has played a very solid defensive shortstop to begin the season.
Whether Luis Urias sinks or swims as the starting shortstop will depend on how well his bat shows up.
Pegged as a great hitter with elite contact skills, Urias rocketed through the Padres minor league system. He made his big league debut in 2018, which didn’t go super well, then played in 71 games at the big league level in 2019 and did better, but still not as well as his Triple-A stats would indicate.
After the trade, Urias had a number of setbacks and the odd circumstances of the 2020 season made it hard to get a good read on where he is now offensively.
The Brewers don’t want to go through another five year long evaluation of a young shortstop like they did with Arcia. They kept waiting and waiting on Arcia to hit and it never happened. It took them 4-5 years to realize he was sinking, and couldn’t swim. Now it’s time to switch to Urias and see if he can swim.
The Brewers and fans should have every confidence that Urias can handle it. He’s showed plenty of flashes, but never really got the everyday opportunity before at shortstop. Now he has it, and those flashes should turn into consistent performance.
It’s important to also remember what the Brewers have coming up at shortstop. Brice Turang had a strong spring training and could be ready to get called up perhaps as early as September and could be ready for the job himself in 2022.
That leaves a one year window for the Brewers to see what they have in Urias. If he swims, great, the Brewers have a really good shortstop under contact for several more seasons. If he sinks, then the Brewers can move to Turang as soon as he’s ready.
Urias hasn’t had the spotlight completely on himself yet in the big leagues. Now the 23 year old has all eyes on him in the middle of that infield. Will he sink or will he swim? Let’s hope he swims.
Urias has shown enough to earn the starting job for now, but whether he can keep it long-term is dependent on what he shows going forward the rest of this season.