Urias has always stood out in his pro career. Seeing him in 2013 pitching for the Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers’ Short-Season A level), he had a smoothness to his actions and a level of body control that you usually only see in some of the better established big league veterans. At 6’0”, his listed height is generous, but he has added some thickness since I saw him last. He has always had a thick, strong lower half, and he really loads up well on his back side before driving towards the plate.
He is aggressive on the mound and works quickly. His May 14th start was no different, with his advanced feel and fastball command on display. His fastball stayed on the corners, and he located it to the glove side with ease, while changing the eye level of hitters. He features one version of a big curveball that he can locate for strikes, and then other tighter variations that will take hitters out of the zone. His easy arm action plays it up, and despite the big shape, gets it to ‘take-off’ at the end with late bite for put away. He does have a tendency to get a little too fast at times, and his body will get out in front of his arm, leading to fastballs up in the zone, but it does seem like something that he is aware of and able to correct pitch to pitch.
Seeing him each of the last three seasons, I tabbed his circle changeup as his future best secondary. Coming out the with the same arm speed as the fastball, it gets late bottom and grades out at a future 60. However the feel he has with his breaking ball has obviously improved, and he shows an ability to change the shape. In 2013 I had that pitch as future average, but think I may have been a bit light. What he showed in this viewing was an average to slightly above offering, and the occasional snap he was able to dial up shows the ingredients of a future plus pitch. He may only have a three- pitch mix by definition, but his advanced feel, and ability to manipulate the action on all his pitches, will lead to fits for big league hitters. While his fastball was up to 93 mph for me as a 16 year old and then up to 96 as a 17 year old, he has learned to throttle it back and forth, and it now sits in the low-to middle 90’s with an extra gear when needed.
Currently, Urias is sitting on a 22-inning scoreless streak after six shutout innings on Saturday, and, barring injury, he will be part of the Dodgers big league club at some point this year. There have been talks about him slotting into the back end of the pen at first, ala Adam Wainwright (RHP, Cardinals) in 2006 when he got called up; however, given the depth of their current rotation; the fact that very little is expected of LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu this season; and Kenta Maeda’s eventual trip back to earth, the temptation of slotting their #1 prospect into the rotation for 120-to-140 innings to fill out the season may be too much to resist. -Dave DeFreitas