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Nick Urbanus

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Nick Urbanus

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Nick Urbanus began his baseball career with high expectations as his grandfather Han Urbanus and his father Charles Urbanus Jr. both won multiple MVP awards in the Netherlands. His grandfather's brother Charles Urbanus Sr. is a member of the Dutch Baseball Hall of Fame as well. His uncle Johan Urbanus played briefly in the Hoofdklasse. Nick was the first member of the family to play pro ball in the US and was the third generation to win a MVP in the Hoofdklasse, living up to the hopes.

Nick played for the Netherlands in the 2008 World Junior Championship. He played one game in the Nettuno phase of the 2009 European Cup, going 3 for 4 with two walks, a double, 2 runs and a RBI. In 2009, he debuted in Hoofdklasse for the Amsterdam Pirates, entering in the 7th inning of a 3-1 game against Kinheim, replacing Björn Henrichs at shortstop. Urbanus lined out to short (on a diving catch) in his first at-bat and did not handle a chance in 3 innings. He was 1 for 8 on the season.

In the 2009 European Junior Championship, Urbanus hit .333/.429/.583 with 9 runs and 7 RBI in six games for the Silver Medalists. He tied for 4th in the event in runs and RBI and tied for second in total bases (12). He was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

Urbanus hit .143/.217/.143 in the 2009 World Port Tournament, splitting second base with Zair Koeiman. He was named the event's Most Popular Player and Best Rookie, perhaps a tribute to his defense or his family ties. The Urbanus became the first Dutch baseball clan with three generations on the national team. He hit .371/.471/.448 in the 2010 World Junior Championship, with two runs in a win over Panama and three hits, two walks, two runs and two RBI in a victory over the Czech Republic. In 2010, he hit .236/.276/.287 for the Pirates, starting at shortstop. Amsterdam made it to the 2010 Holland Series but lost to Neptunus. Urbanus won the Ron Fraser Award as the top youth player in the Netherlands.

Urbanus signed with the Texas Rangers in November 2010, the 45th player from the Netherlands to sign with a MLB club. The scouts were Jim Colborn and Mike Daly. The Rangers Media Guide listed him as the first European player ever signed by Texas. He split the 2011 season, his first in U.S. pro ball, between the AZL Rangers (.283/.349/.356, 35 R in 50 G) and Spokane Indians (0 for 3). In 2012, he hit .258/.303/.355 in 7 games for Spokane and .231/.308/.273 in 46 games for the Hickory Crawdads. For Hickory, he was a utility infielder, backing up Rougned Odor at 2B, Luis Sardinas at SS and Drew Robinson at 3B.

He starred in the 2012 European Championship, hitting .458/.643/.667 with 8 runs and 7 RBI in 9 games while playing error-free ball (15 PO, 18 A). He had three runs apiece against France and Sweden and drove in three against Germany. Despite being the team's second-youngest player (after Danny Arribas), he hit leadoff and started at SS in the Gold Medal game but was 0 for 4 in a 8-3 loss to Italy (he did have 3 putouts, 4 assists and no errors). In Pool C, he hit .500, good for 4th behind Paco Figueroa, Kevin Kotowski and Tyler LaTorre) and slugged .813, 3rd behind LaTorre and Richard Montiel. Alternating between 2B (splitting time with Dwayne Kemp), SS (splitting time with Hainley Statia) and 3B (backing up Mike Duursma), he was named the Euros' Outstanding Defensive Player.

The Uithoorn native struggled for Hickory in 2013, hitting only .150/.230/.181 in 55 games, backing up Ryan Rua at 2B, Joey Gallo at 3B and Luis Marte at SS. In 2014, he was with Hickory (.212/.251/.291 in 48 G) and the AZL Rangers (5 for 15, 2 BB) to end his four-year stint in the Texas system. In the 2014 European Championship, he moved to third base as Statia and Sharlon Schoop were the middle infield starters. He hit .333/.371/.576 with 8 runs and 7 RBI in 9 games as the Dutch won the title, with a grand slam off Russia's Maxim Monakhov. In the Gold Medal game, he was 1 for 3 with a double in a 6-3 win over Italy.

Urbanus returned to the Hoofdklasse in 2015 and hit .255/.331/.346 for Amsterdam, fielding .978. He was 13-for-18 in steals, finishing 6th in swipes and 3rd with 115 assists. He was 3 for 11 with a run and 3 RBI in the 2015 World Port Tournament, handling 12 chances error-free. He went 4 for 10 with 3 walks, a triple, homers 3 runs and 2 RBI in the 2015 European Cup, with all the runs and RBI against the Solingen Alligators. In the 2016 Haarlem Baseball Week, he homered in a 3-run, 3-RBI game against Taiwan.

In the 2016 Hoofdklasse, he batted .308/.361/.483 for the Pirates with 35 runs and 34 RBI in 41 games while fielding .981. He was 5th in the league in slugging (between Dudley Leonora and Gianison Boekhoudt, tied Jasper Keijzer for 4th in runs, tied Leonora for 3rd in hits (53), was 3rd in RBI (behind Leonora and Boekhoudt), led in doubles (14, two over Christian Diaz), tied Kevin Moesquit for second with four homers (one behind Boekhoudt), was second with 83 total bases (one behind Roelie Henrique), tied Danny Rombley and Raily Legito for the most sacrifice flies (5) and was 3rd with 134 assists (behind Duursma and Leonora). He helped Amsterdam make the 2016 Holland Series despite several injuries to the club, including their top two starting pitchers. He stole home in game 4 of the Series but umpire Henri van Heijningen annulled it as Gilmer Lampe had called for time right before Urbanus broke for home. He hit .273/.407/.364 with 5 walks, 3 runs and 2 RBI in six games in the Series while handling 28 chances error-free. He won the league MVP, beating out fellow finalists Diaz and Leonora. He was the second son to follow his father as MVP - the first having been his father, thus making the Urbanuses the first three-generation family to win Hoofdklasse MVP honors as well as being the only two-generation family to do so. His father won Coach of the Year for his work guiding Amsterdam as well in 2016.

Nick also excelled in the 2016 European Champions Cup, hitting .571/.647/.929 with 10 runs in the first four games; he had 4 runs and 3 hits against Italian powerhouse ASD Rimini, scored three against Kotlarka Prague and had 3 hits and 3 runs against Dutch rival Neptunus. In the finale, he was 1 for 3 with two walks and a run as Amsterdam topped host Rimini for the title. He led the event in average (.116 over Mirco Caradonna), slugging (.116 over Boekhoudt), OBP (.047 ahead of Caradonna), total bases (13, tied with Boekhoudt), doubles (5, two ahead of former major leaguer Ronny Cedeno and Ennio Retrosi), runs (double #2 Diaz) and hits (one ahead of Diaz and Lampe). He did not get the MVP, which went to infield mate and fellow former minor leaguer Kenny Berkenbosch.

Backing up Kemp at second base in the 2016 European Championship, he was 5 for 15 with 3 walks, a run and two RBI. He came up big in the Gold Medal game, which he started (Kemp playing LF), with a two-run single off Leslie Nacar to score Kemp and Boekhoudt in a 3-2 win over Spain. He and former major leaguer Yurendell De Caster were the only Dutch players with multiple hits in the Gold Medal game.

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