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Prize Dodgers Prospect Julio Urias to Make MLB Debut

May 26th, 2016 · 1 Comment · Baseball, Dodgers, Kobe

Only a few weeks after forward-thinking baseball pundits pooh-poohed the likelihood — as well as the wisdom — of calling up “best pitching prospect in ball” Jose Urias … the Dodgers have done just that.

The left-hander from Mexico, still only 19, was working on a 27-inning scoreless streak in Triple-A when he got the call.

He will make his Major League debut tomorrow night against the Mets in New York.

And Dodgers fans who were listing toward despair over the state of the club’s pitching will be paying close attention.

It is only the first of what the Dodgers hope will be many appearances by Urias, but expectations are high.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times already has constructed a scenario in which Urias replaces Kobe Bryant as the No. 1 sports star in the Los Angeles market in a sort of replay of Fernandomania.

Urias also is Mexican and, of course, Spanish-speaking.

He appears to be a talkative kid, as well as one with an interesting back story. A “benign mass” in his left eye was surgically removed in 2015, shortening his season significantly.

Urias reportedly said God gave him a special left arm in the place of his troublesome left eye, which is nearly closed.

He was called up by the Dodgers specifically to start tomorrow’s game in New York because Alex Wood, originally slated to pitch, has soreness in his triceps. The word from the Dodgers is that Wood will miss only one start … which leaves us to speculate over what Urias does next.

First, he will not be on the mound a long time against the Mets. He has not thrown more than 86 pitches in any game this year, and it is hard to imagine the Dodgers will let him go further than that in his debut, so figure five or six innings — unless he gets a lot of quick outs.

If Wood is available soon, and if Hyun-jin Ryu returns from rehabbing a surgical shoulder in a few weeks, Urias may not be needed as a starter in the short term.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has expressed an interest in having Urias pitch out of the bullpen, and the Dodgers certainly need the help there.

The argument against that, however, is that the club foresees Urias as a starting pitcher, and getting him conditioned to 20-pitch appearances two or three or four times per week … will retard his development as a guy who would threw 100 pitches every fifth day.

Thus, some people in the organization are thinking Urias might go back down to Oklahoma City, especially if he is roughed up in his debut, to familiarizing himself (and his arm) to the different sort of work load starting pitchers experience.

He has never pitched 90 innings in a season, and the Dodgers are unlikely to let him go far past that threshold, if at all.

Urias dominated Triple-A opponents this year, striking out 44 and allowing only eight walks in 41 innings. He had a 4-1 record with an earned-run average of 1.10.

He is said to be able to reach 95 mph with his fastball, which is a good number for a guy who is listed at a compact 6-foot, 215 pounds. His curve also is very good.

This is something of a big moment for the team as well as the kid. In the offseason the Dodgers let their No. 2 pitcher, Zack Greinke, leave the club; he signed with Arizona for six years and $208 million.

Meantime, the Dodgers this season have struggled when anyone other than Clayton Kershaw pitches, and a major factor in keeping Dodgers fans from matching on the club offices was the knowledge that Urias was down in Triple-A and another top prospect, Jose De Leon, is at Double-A.

If he demonstrates an ability to get out big-league hitters, the decision to let Greinke walk (and the inability to find a replacement more impressive than Scott Kazmir) will not seem quite so ridiculous — even if Urias goes back to the minors for another month or two.


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Gene // May 27, 2016 at 8:37 PM

    Not a sterling performance by Urias tonight (2-2/3s innings), but a first ML start tells you little with all the nerves of that debut before a sell-out crowd at Citi.

    I remember David Cone’s debut for the Mets on a miserably cold and rainy April night when the Mets’ bullpen was depleted and Cone had no control, but they left him in for 10 runs or so to save the relievers—and Cone did make something of himself later you might say.

    It of course was a sell-out crowd tonight chanting for Chase Utley’s head after his leg-breaking slide in the NL playoffs last year—and what does Utley do but drive in 4 runs including a game-tying, bases-clearing double in the top of ninth.

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