When I came to Arizona, more than anything, I wanted to see one player: Julio Urias. The 17 year old left-handed pitcher stunned the prospect community when he debuted as a 16 year old in full season ball, a feat that’s rarely been accomplished. And, not only did he show up, he dominated, to the tune of a 2.48 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 54.1 innings pitched. But today, the precocious prospect faced major league opposition for the first time.
How did he fare? I think “well” would be an understatement. Maybe he was nervous, maybe he was trying too hard, but he started off the first batter, Will Venable, with three straight balls. However, the poise and confidence he’s already shown in the minors translated to the highest level as he worked back to strike out the center fielder. The next batter, Chris Denorfia, made weak contact and dribbled a bouncer to third base. The final victim in Urias’ all-too-brief frame of work was Yonder Alonso, who fell behind early and looked like a little leaguer against his devastating slider. Three batters, two strikeouts, one perfect inning.
Julio’s impressive impression didn’t end on the field. The teenager spoke with a gaggle of press outside the Dodgers’ locker room and showed maturity beyond his years. When I asked what his goals for the upcoming season were, he said that he wanted to finish the season in the majors. If he couldn’t accomplish that, then he wanted to reach Double A. Remember, he won’t turn 18 until August.
Another key piece of information I ascertained was his height. Listed at 5’11 since he was signed, Urias now stands a solid 6’1. He insisted that he’s not done growing, and when I asked him how tall he’d like to be, he responded with a conservative 6’3.
But back to baseball. A scout in attendance said he clocked the lefty from 92-95 mph. He admitted that the fastball was his best pitch last year in the minors, both in terms of his confidence in the pitch and the results it induced. His second? The slider, more of a big, sweeping offering than a short, tight breaker. His changeup is his third pitch, though it’s one that he already throws with good arm speed and can throw for strikes.
It’s difficult not to get excited after an outing like this. When you see so much talent in such a young player, you can’t help but dream about how good he can be. It’s difficult to temper expectations for a 17 year old who pitches like a 27 year old. But the future is bright, health permitting, and Urias is as special as they come.
Here are videos of the three hitters Urias faced this afternoon:
Urias vs. Will Venable
Urias vs Chris Denorfia
Urias vs. Yonder Alonso