A week or so ago, I wrote an article about Luis Garcia thinking that despite being the runner up in the Rookie of the Year, I felt like he was really underrated and there was not much buzz about him. In the spring training game thread, Whatdelayindustries commented “I think Urquidy is the most underrated pitcher on the team.” and I wanted to take a bit deeper of a look at Urquidy’s performances and expectations for him.
Who is Jose Urquidy
Up until 2019, NO ONE had heard of Jose Urquidy. I don’t mean that in just the unheralded prospect way as Jose Luis Hernandez changed his name adding the Urquidy surname. The unheralded part is true, but Urquidy changed his last name in tribute to his mother Alba who was the one who raised him and supported his baseball dreams.
As for the unheralded part, the Athletic captured it well:
“Then again, maybe the entire industry misses it, too. On that Thursday last December, every club in baseball could have selected Jose Urquidy, a 23-year-old right-hander in the Astros system who had never pitched above A-ball, had Tommy John surgery in 2017 and was still known to the baseball world by a different name: José Luis Hernandez.
No one did.”
While he wasn’t recognized as a top prospect, his performances since joining the Astros has made a lot of believers out of him. His career stats to date include an 11-5 record, 3.55 ERA, 1.019 WHIP driven by a miniscule 1.7 K/9 across his 177.2 IP.
With that said, the advanced stats don’t paint quite as rosy of a picture with a 4.13 FIP/4.53 xFIP. Most of his pitches came in a tick below average velocity wise, and nothing in his sliders stands out as exceptional other than BB% where he is in the top 4% of the league.
The projections are a step below those numbers coming in at anywhere from 4.24 - 4.64 ERA in 125.7-145 IP (1.7-1.9 WAR).
It feels like a stark contrast given his performance to date, but there is small sample size to play, with his total IP across the 3 years coming to a grand total of 177.2 IP.
I was actually pretty surprised by the numbers, and I could actually argue we may be overestimating his value given the regression indicated. But I’m not sure why, but I can’t help but agree that he still feels underrated and that he’ll outperform the projections significantly. I completely understand that it could be my Astros bias, or that I was in Mexico watching the Astros in the World Series and got to witness the impact and draw he had to the people there. There’s something truly enjoyable about watching him pitch, and maybe it’s those things, or maybe it’s just watching beautiful clips like these:
José Urquidy, Filthy Breaking Balls. pic.twitter.com/BM3XcYRHm0— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 14, 2020
José Urquidy, Nasty 84mph Changeup. pic.twitter.com/rHPH1LCMsZ— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 20, 2019
José Urquidy, 95mph Fastball, 86mph Changeup and 81mph Slider, Overlay (synced at release). pic.twitter.com/6n4X3Ql16P— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 27, 2019
Additionally, if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Fangraphs’ article on Urquidy’s offspeed makeover which details a bit of the changes we saw and introduced me to Vertical Approach Angle, which is an intriguing read for any of you that enjoyed the Strom series of articles.
Depth Chart Projections: 137 IP, 4.48 ERA, 4.53 FIP. 1.7 WAR
2021: 107 IP, 3.62 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 1.8 WAR
Do you think Urquidy will beat his Depth Chart projections?
This poll is closed
Yes and will beat 2021 results
He will beat projections but worse than 2021
The projections seem right
He will perform below the level projected.