Julio Urias celebrated his 18th birthday on Aug. 12, but rather than preparing for graduation from high school or attending Senior Prom, Urias was set to take the mound for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga the following night.
Urias’ first start as an adult was nothing short of impressive — five innings, one run allowed and a career-high nine strikeouts. The young left-hander then matched the strikeout total in five shutout innings of on Aug. 18.
Urias had been scheduled to start the game, but entered in the third inning due to Chris Perez beginning a rehab assignment. The Mexican native is in his second season with the Dodgers organization.
Quakes pitching coach Matt Herges complimented Urias on his arsenal of pitches, via Ryan Walton of the Valley Bay News:
It’s not your typical stuff coming from a kid who just turned 18,” said Herges. “You see the numbers on the fastball. He touches upper 90?s. You see the spin on his breaking ball and you’re thinking this is an upper level guy or an older guy. You see the changeup that makes everybody look foolish.”
Herges furthered his assessment of Urias by comparing him to pitchers in the Majors:
This is the type of thing you don’t see even in a major leaguer,” said Herges. “You’re talking about three major league quality pitches. I pitched in the big leagues for awhile with maybe one. This kid, at eighteen has three. Any guy that looks at it is going to say wow, wow, wow on all three of them.”
Given his Mexican background, Urias is naturally compared to former Dodger Fernando Valenzuela. Herges didn’t go that far, but continued to gush over Urias’ talent:
I’m not going to say he is going to be the next Fernando (Valenzuela) but I don’t see anything that concerns me,” Herges continued. “Every pitcher I have, there is something like ‘he’s got to clean that up’ or ‘that’s got to get better.’ For (Urias) it’s all there. I watch him under a microscope because I want to see something that I can say this is something you have to get better at. Everything he brings to the table, and not just pitching, but intangibles. They’re off the charts.”
The young phenom started 18 games with Low-A Great Lakes in 2013 and finished 2-0, 2.48 ERA, 1.104 WHIP and 67 strikeouts in 54.1 innings pitched. He’s 1-2 with a 2.68 ERA in 18 starts this season with the Quakes.
By most accounts, Urias’ is a can’t-miss prospect. His projected ceiling is what placed him among a group of three prospects that includes Joc Pederson and Corey Seager whom the Dodgers refused to part with at the trade deadline.
Urias joined Seager at this year’s Futures Game. As the youngest player to ever appear in the game, Urias needed just 14 pitches to collect one strikeout as part of a 1-2-3 fifth inning, which was his only inning of work.
Despite his electrifying talent, the Dodgers are bringing Urias along slowly, which he’s on record as being comfortable with and understanding of.
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