(Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports)
Friday evening was business as usual for Dodgers‘top pitching prospect Julio Urias. This time, the scouting director, the pitching coordinator or whomever dictates orders to OKC manager Bill Haselman, only let Urias work five full innings against the Salt Lake Bees. All three of the 19-year-old’s previous starts in the month of May lasted six full innings.
Despite the short outing, the lefty phenom was able to stretch his arm out a bit, tallying 64 total pitches. In doing so, Urias kept alive his scoreless innings streak, increasing the total to 27 consecutive innings.
Urias allowed three hits and walked none in his five innings while striking out five opposing batters. He lowered his ERA on the season to a miniscule 1.10, including 44 strikeouts and eight walks over 41 innings of work. He also picked another runner off first base — his fifth victim in his last four outings.
With the 1-0 victory, OKC improved to 23-16, maintaining a one-half game lead over Omaha in the American Northern division of the PCL. Matt West and Casey Fien tossed two scoreless innings each to complete Oklahoma City’s league-leading sixth shutout.
Rob Segedin went 3-for-4 with a triple and scored the game’s only run on Jose Tabata‘s single in the bottom of the fourth frame.
Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times recently put together an editorial regarding the young southpaw, and admitted that he heard a veteran Dodgers’ player in the clubhouse asking when Urias was coming up to the bigs. In addition, one of the club’s more dependable relievers went as far to say that Urias is conceivably the Dodgers’ current best eighth inning option.
Urias’ pitching coach at Oklahoma City, Matt Herges, believes that Urias is ready to make the leap to the big leagues.
“Coming into the season, I had a checklist of things I had for him to work on and he’s been able to cross those things off,” Herges told Michael Avallone of milb.com. “How he handles himself in-game has gotten so much better. The frustration he used to show hindered his performance and it hurt the next pitch. That’s gone. How he holds runners was another box that needed to be checked off, and that’s done. Tipping his pitches, that’s checked. There’s always something to work on, but the things I was most concerned about in terms of his big league readiness, those boxes have been checked.”
When president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was asked about his stance with Urias, he admitted that the club was venturing into uncharted waters.
“In Julio’s case, in particular, it’s a little more unique because of how advanced he is at such a young age. I think as an industry we know more about how to limit starting pitcher injuries than we did 10 years ago, but there’s no question in my mind we’ll know significantly more five years from now,” Friedman said to Hernandez. “I think it’s important not to overstate what you don’t know, but until we know more, you almost always have to err on the side of caution.”
In other minor league news, Tulsa fell to Northwest Arkansas 2-0, as Drillers’ righty Brock Stewart turned in what was possibly one of his more impressive outings as a professional.
Over six full innings of work, Stewart surrendered five hits, a walk, and one earned run while striking out nine batters. The nine punch outs marked an individual high for any Tulsa pitcher in a single game this season.
Over eight starts between Double-A and Advanced-A ball this season, Stewart has thrown 47 total innings, registering a very respectable 1.15 ERA, a 0.850 WHIP and a .179 opposition batting average. His 53 strikeouts calculate to a 10.2 K/9.
On Saturday night, righty Jeremy Kehrt will make his first start of the season for Tulsa after beginning the year with Oklahoma City. He will be opposed by lefty Eric Skoglund for Northwest Arkansas. First pitch is slated for 6:05 p.m. local time.