At the front of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting rotation is Clayton Kershaw — reigning National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner, and widely considered the best pitcher in baseball.
In their farm system, the Dodgers have Julio Urias — who is fresh off his first season in Double-A and undeniably the club’s best pitcher in the Minors. At just 18 years old, Urias is in his first big-league camp and as he’s continued to do throughout his brief career, is turning heads.
With plenty of expectations surrounding Urias, Kershaw took it upon himself to offer advice to the young left-hander, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Spring Training is completely different than getting called up,” he said. “Spring Training, it’s getting acclimated to the big league clubhouse and that’s huge. I talked to him about it, so when you do get called up, you’re not a stranger. You’ll feel like you fit in.”
The Dodgers have handled Urias with care, never allowing him to pitch more than 6.0 innings in any of his 43 appearances, 38 of which have been starts. Kershaw commented on his experience during the Dodgers’ process of limiting his innings in the early stages of his career:
They did a really good job with me,” said Kershaw. “I was frustrated when they would have me pitch in relief to cut my innings, but the way they did it was perfect. By the time I was ready for a big league season, I was ready for 200 innings.”
After impressing A.J. Ellis with his bullpen session, Urias left teammates, including Alex Guerrero and Joc Pederson befuddled and signing his praises after facing the young lefty in live batting practice.
Urias set a goal of reaching the Majors in 2015, however the odds don’t appear to be in his favor as manager Don Mattingly recently said the possibility isn’t one that’s likely for reasons that include the fear of placing too much pressure on the pitcher’s shoulders.
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