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Dodgers: Julio Urías Has a Rehab Start for the Quakes



Julio Urías is making his way back to Dodger Stadium. It is near the end of a long path and he made his third rehabilitation assignment with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on August 10, 2018.

Background

When Julio Urías was 14 years old he was discovered by the legendary scout, Mike Brito.  Brito was quoted in this ESPN article from 2016 by Mike Padilla, saying:

“When he showed a lot of potential, I said, ‘This kid, I cannot lose him,'” Brito said. “I told his father, I told him, ‘You’re going to be with the Dodgers.'”

The Dodgers were able to sign Urías right after his 16th birthday and he made it to the Majors by the time he was 19 years old, in May of 2016. He even made a start in the NLCS against the Cubs and was considered to be a key member of the Dodgers starting staff for years to come.

As Spring Training rolled around for 2017 the Dodgers still wanted to limit his innings, but it didn’t work out. He was not as effective when he was brought up, other than a no-hitter he took into the 7th inning against the Pirates (broken up by Andrew McCutchen when Andrew Toles wrecked his knee). He was later optioned back to AAA in May, in part because his control was off. He started to show improvement in AAA but injured his shoulder in June. The injury turned out to be devastating as he had surgery to repair the anterior capsule in his left shoulder and would be out 12-14 months.

Rehabilitation

Julio did a nice job of documenting his surgery and recovery on Instagram and many of us followed closely. With the Dodgers wanting him to work out of the bullpen this year, he started his rehabilitation assignment on July 30 for the Dodgers Arizona League team. He had a couple of nice appearances with pitch limits of 30 then was scheduled to start for the single A level Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on August 10th. The morning of August 10 we received some shocking news:

Pre-Game Bullpen

As Julio is my favorite player, I went up to see his appearance for the Quakes.  I got as close as I could to watch his bullpen:

What I saw from the bullpen that close was that his 4 seam fastball has a lot of movement. It almost has 2 seam movement but without the sink. It must just be that crazy lefty movement. However, he struggled with the curveball both in terms of movement and location. Still, it was wonderful to witness Julio up close.

Game Time

To the actual game, Julio started out with 3 fastballs ranging from 90-92 MPH, then gave up a soft infield hit on an 82 MPH changeup. Julio then tried to pick the runner off first but threw it away. However, the first baseman, Jared Walker, tracked the ball down and threw out the runner at second. He then struck out the next batter on three pitches: two fastballs and a curve. The next batter hit a 3-1 shot to right field for a single off a poorly located curve but was out trying to stretch it out to a double. To summarize the first inning:

The second inning started off with a home run by Tyler Nevin off of a curve that didn’t curve. According to my tracking, he only threw 4 curveballs and abandoned it after that home run.  The problems he had in the bullpen with the curve continued into the game.  He then walked the next batter on a 3-2 pitch.  What is notable is that his fastball was between 93-95 MPH. He proceeded to strike out the next batter with a dose of changeups. The changeup was working well as it generated three swings and misses and was locating well.  The last batter he faced lined out to right field. Due to a pitch count of 30, he was pulled at 29 pitches. Here is the 2nd inning summary:

Analysis

Below is a summary of the pitches that Julio threw with the result. In all, 3 of the 4 balls put into play were hit hard, the changeup was filthy, the curve was not where he needs it and the fastball got better as the outing moved along. I hope the curveball gets better as he progresses. The curve is a “feel” pitch and it should come along as he throws it in further rehab assignments.

Fastball Curve Changeup Total
Ball 7 1 2 10
Foul 6 0 1 7
Swing and Miss 2 1 3 6
Ball in Play 1 2 1 4
Strike Looking 2 0 0 2
Total 18 4 7 29

Below is Julio striking out a batter on a nasty changeup.

The biggest question I have is how close is he to being back to 100%. I looked up his fastball velocity statistics on FanGraphs to gauge where the fastball is at. Before the injury he would top out at 96 MPH while averaging 92-94 MPH. In the first inning of his rehab start he averaged 91.6 MPH with a high of 93. In the second inning he averaged 92.6 MPH and topped out at 95. The changeup was awesome, the curve needed work and and fastball is close. I didn’t track any sliders but I may have missed them.

Autograph Time

If you go to a rehab game at Rancho Cucamonga the rehabbing players usually sign autographs and Urías obliged the fans. He was smiling and engaging with the fans. I got a ball signed and got to briefly chat as he was signing. He’s always been great about signing and it is appreciated.

https://twitter.com/JEspinoza1634/status/1028148577757884417

Summary

His previous appearance, while looking good on the surface, was panned by Eric Longenhagen from FanGraphs so I will be interested in what Eric has to say about this appearance. Again, the curve did not look good but the changeup was spot on. If the Dodgers only want him in the bullpen would a fastball and changeup combination be enough to replace some of the current pieces in the bullpen? We have not heard the next step for Urías but I’d speculate that he needs to stay with the Quakes and start pitching with fewer days in between appearances. I’d think he’d need to pitch on consecutive days or maybe with one day rest to be able to pitch in the Dodgers overtaxed bullpen. The way the bullpen is going I bet the Dodgers will want him sooner than the full 30-day rehabilitation assignment.

Bottom line, it looks like we will see Julio Urías back in Dodger Stadium soon, maybe even within the next homestand. I just hope he will be ready and not rushed. He is a fan favorite and I know we are all very excited to see him soon.

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Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

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