Signed on the same scouting trip that netted the Los Angeles Dodgers Yasiel Puig, Julio Urias had largely flown under the radar until this season.
The young southpaw spent the 2013 pitching for Low-A Great Lakes and finished 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA in 18 starts. Urias was then promoted to High-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he went 2-2 with 2.36 ERA in 25 appearances (20 starts).
After turning 18 years old on Aug. 12, Urias had three consecutive starts with nine strikeouts, which is a career-high for strikeouts in a single game. His electric talent and Mexican nationally has led to Fernando Valenzuela comparisons and talk that he’s ready for the Majors.
Jim Callis of MLBPipeline.com compared Urias to Clayton Kershaw and was another who praised his talent. While Urias is showing early signs of being a future star, the Dodgers are in no rush to get him on the big league roster.
Quakes pitching coach Matt Herges said the focus needs to be ensuring Urias has a future in the Majors, via Pedro Moura of the OC Register:
It’s hard to not rush him along, but our No. 1 priority as caretakers of this kid, this special talent that we have, is to do right by him,” Herges said. “You never really know when you’re gonna blow, if you’re gonna blow. The Nationals handled Stephen Strasburg with kid gloves, did everything by the book, and it still didn’t work. But we gotta be smart with Julio. But then again, we still want him to develop into who we think he can be.”
Manager Don Mattingly said it would be unfair to Urias if he were among the September callups and doing so at such a young age could be counterproductive — citing Dee Gordon as an example. Urias threw 54.1 innings last season and 87.2 this year.
Only once did he record an out in the sixth inning this season and it came in his second-to-last start. Urias’ successful season led to him being the youngest player to ever participate in the Futures Game, where he threw a scoreless inning of relief.
As one of the top three prospects in the Dodgers’ organization, Urias’ time in the Majors will eventually come and it will have all the makings of him being the next elite pitcher to don a Dodgers uniform.
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