The potential next great Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander is scheduled to make his major league debut.
The Dodgers have a long history of dominant southpaws, from Sandy Koufax to Fernando Valenzuela to Clayton Kershaw, and Julio Urias’ quest to join that list will start Friday night, when the 19-year-old (not a typo) faces the New York Mets at Citi Field.
The Mexican-born lefty started pitching professionally in 2013 as a 16-year-old and has used three quality pitches to rise through the Dodgers’ system. He has been nearly unhittable at Triple-A this season, going 4-1 with a 1.10 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 41 innings.
The obvious comparison for Urias is Fernando Valenzuela, who took the baseball world by storm in 1981. After making 10 appearances late in the 1980 season, Valenzuela captivated baseball fans everywhere in ’81, going 13-7 with a 2.48 ERA, leading the league in both shutouts and strikeouts, and sparking Fernandomania.
It’s probably unfair to expect anything like that out of Urias early on, but he certainly has the stuff to get big league hitters out. His fastball can get into the upper 90s, but he’ll sit anywhere between 91 and 95 mph. His secondary stuff — a curveball and a changeup — are both considered plus pitches, or at least project that way.
Urias’ stuff, especially his secondary offerings, are improved by a smooth but deceptive delivery. The lefty hides the ball extremely well before attacking the hitter from an uncomfortable angle. As long as he’s able to throw strikes, he could be tough on big league hitters who haven’t seen him yet, especially as he makes his first trip or two around the league.
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