GLENDALE, Ariz. — Julio Urias gave the Dodgers so much to like in his first live BP session of the spring Sunday, it’s worth focusing on the present before dreaming about the 18-year-old’s future.
Urias is expected to begin the season at Double-A. At least, there have been no indications otherwise to this point from anyone within the organization.
So how does Urias compare to most Double-A pitchers?
“That’s top of the line stuff in Double-A,” said O’Koyea Dickson, who spent all of 2014 with the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate.
“From the left side you don’t get too much better than that — 93, 95, tight little slider, good changeup,” Dickson said. “I know that first at-bat he wasn’t really locating the changeup. The second at-bat, I swung through the changeup and looked a lot better. He already made the adjustment just one at-bat after that one.”
Also unlike the other three hitters who saw Urias on Sunday, Dickson had already faced Urias in spring training — an intrasquad game last year.
“I just think his motion is a lot smoother (now),” Dickson said. “His windup is smooth and all of a sudden, here comes the ball. For how young he is, he’s blessed with a great arm. At the end of the day you just try to hit his mistakes. He left a few that I probably should’ve hit, but it’s still early. I just joked with him in the trainer’s room, ‘give me a couple days I’ll get him.’ ”
Urias struck out Guerrero twice, Heisey once and Pederson once. No balls left the infield, save a pop-up by Dickson that barely reached the grass between first and second base.
“He’s 18 and he’s throwing 96,” said Pederson, who had never faced Urias before. “It’s not normal.”
Most of this is old hat for Urias. Last year at age 17, he faced three major-league hitters in one Cactus League inning — a 1-2-3 frame against the San Diego Padres that included two strikeouts.
Sandy Koufax watched from behind the batting cage Sunday, but that’s nothing new. Koufax has already watched Urias throw in the bullpen and offered words of encouragement.
Even Urias himself isn’t buying into the hype. That’s a good thing for an organization that’s rightfully cautious about rushing him too fast through the minor leagues.
Urias’ analysis of his pitching Sunday was sober.
“The changeup wasn’t moving the way I wanted at first,” he said. “I wasn’t all that happy with it. The second inning it came around.
“I feel like I still have work to do.”