Julio Urias had an impressive pitching session on Sunday while throwing to live batters at Camelback Ranch. Urias impressed a crowd as Dodger legend Sandy Koufax, hitting coach Mark McGwire, general manager Farhan Zaidi, and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt all were on hand to watch Urias pitch. Fans and members of the media also gathered to watch the elite prospect show off his amazing skills.
Urias, who seems much more mature and poised than most eighteen year-olds, ignored the big crowd as he honed in on the batters he was facing.
"“I’m just focusing on the job I need to do and forget about who is behind there or in front of me,” the 18-year-old pitcher said. “I felt good. It was my first time to throw since the season ended and I thank God I felt good.”"
Urias faced Alex Guerrero, Chris Heisey, Joc Pederson and O’Koyea Dickson. He made 30 pitches, and he was reportedly very excited rather than nervous about pitching in front of the crowd when he spoke to media after the workout.
Julio may pitch in a Cactus League game as early as this Friday. Last Spring Training I had the opportunity to record Urias’s Cactus League debut. Like most who have seen him pitch, I was awe-struck by his sheer talent. I’m extremely excited to possibly see him pitch again this month.
about the teenage super prospect, and I agree with him that
. The southpaw will most likely pitch in Double-A Tulsa this season. There’s really no reason to rush Urias to the majors. I’m a big believer that his path to the big club should be closely monitored in order so that his development isn’t affected by the strong desire to see him pitch in the majors before he is ready (although I selfishly would love to see Urias strikeout the entire San Diego lineup). When you see pictures of Sandy Koufax watching Urias pitch, it gives you goose bumps.
Call to the Pen
When to call up Urias is a delicate decision. While I won’t totally rule out a September call up this season, I don’t think the Dodgers will pitch Urias in the majors this year. Even if injuries decimate the rotation, and Daniel Coulombe is pitching out of the bullpen again, there’s no reason to rush Urias into the mix until he’s absolutely ready to not only mentally pitch in the majors but also take the physical toll of pitching at the highest level. While mentally Urias may be ready as seen from his poise and maturity on the mound, he still needs to pitch deeper into games.
Brandon Beachy becomes that much more important come mid-season should Brandon McCarthy or Brett Anderson land on the disabled list. Even Hyun-jin Ryu and Zack Greinke have been dealing with some Spring Training back soreness and an elbow treatment. Beachy could provide a late season pitching injection into the roster should he be ready to come back from his second Tommy John surgery. The point is, Julio Urias should not even be considered to slot into the rotation even if the Dodgers have to dig deep into their roster in order to find extra arms at some point during the long season.
Feb 23, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias (78) throws in the bullpen during camp at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Thrusting Urias into the majors early will also give away precious free agent years. We want to watch Urias pitch in Blue for many seasons to come. Even though a lot of fans may be chomping at the bit to call him up after he proceeds to clobber Double-A hitters, we have to remember that it will be much more beneficial in the long run to hone his skills further in the minors before starting his clock in the majors.
It’s a story line which we follow through Spring Training and into Urias’s third professional season with the Dodgers. Last season with the Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Urias shook the California League up by striking out 109 batters over 87 2/3 innings.
Urias’s time will come. If not this season, then next. When it does, the spotlight will once again be on him like it was during his impressive pitching session at Camelback Ranch on Sunday. Not only will Dodger fans be watching from the edge of their seats, but the world will be watching as well. Fernando Valenzuela‘s legacy obviously has influenced Mexican pitchers like Urias, but the young lefty will certainly make his own distinctive mark when the time is right.