Julio Urias was center stage on Sunday when he took the mound to throw live batting practice on one of the backfields at Camelback Ranch.
Urias had already impressed A.J. Ellis, who caught the young left-hander’s first bullpen session, and Sandy Koufax after the Hall of Famer got the opportunity to watch Urias pitch for the first time. In front of a crowd that included Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi and several media members, Urias dazzled once more.
He’s 18 and he’s throwing 96,” Pederson said. “It’s not normal.”
Chris Heisey was among the batters who faced Urias, and he too complimented the left-hander:
I was impressed with his command,” Heisey said. “That change-up, away to righties would be devastating. I was really impressed with what I saw from him.”
While none of the hitters Urias faced Sunday fared particularly well, Alex Guerrero may have had the most trouble based on his comments, via Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
I couldn’t see the ball,” Guerrero said in Spanish. “When he threw a fastball, I couldn’t see it. The movement was distinct. He threw me two high fastballs, but I couldn’t see them. I swung for the sake of swinging, but I couldn’t see them.”
Urias threw 87.2 innings in 25 games (20 starts) with High-A Rancho Cucamonga last season with his workload being monitored throughout the year. He nonetheless managed to collect 109 strikeouts, which was good for an 11.9 average per nine innings.
Ranked as one of the top prospects in the Dodgers’ organization, and the best left-handed Minor League pitcher by MLBPipeline.com, Urias has set a goal of reaching the Majors in 2015. While his talent may suggest it’s something he’s capable of handling, the Dodgers have been reluctant to the idea thus far. Instead, it appears Urias will begin the 2015 season in Double-A.
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