Notable Quotables: Dodgers VP of player development talks teen Urias

By Ashley Marshall

Teenage pitching prospect Julio Urias made his professional debut on Sunday, striking out six batters — all swinging — over three shutout innings in Class A Great Lakes’ 2-1 loss to Dayton.

The performance, especially for someone so young pitching in a full-season league, had Dodgers fans excited across social media circles.

Prior to Urias’ home start against Lansing on Friday, we caught up with the Dodgers VP of player development De Jon Watson, who watched Urias’ debut in person.

On how he evaluated Urias’ first start:

For us, he’s already been pitching in games. He was extended down in extended spring training against other competition. It really wasn’t his debut, just his debut in front of the paying public.

It was really exciting. He was extremely poised, his delivery mechanics were sound and his arm worked exceptionally well for a 16-year-old. He was 92-95 mph and showed the makings of an average changeup and average curveball.

On Urias’ strengths:

He was off the record. He has electric stuff, man. He has phenomenal poise and he can command the baseball to both sides of the plate. He is able to add and subtract from his fastball, and when he wants a little bit more he can reach back and get some more. His advanced mind-set when he’s competing against other players is really kind of neat for such a young player.

On someone so young having Urias’ ability and poise:

It’s pretty rare. You don’t get these kinds of guys very often, but when you do, it really is a pleasure and a treat. We sign a lot of kids who are 16 years old out of the Dominican and Venezuela, but he’s the first one in my seven years here who has been able to come Stateside and go out and contribute and hold his own at such a young age.

But we do have some good-looking young 16-year-olds in the Dominican who we have just recently signed and I’m excited to see them in a few games.

On why they sent him straight to Class A Great Lakes:

It was really just a spot start to really kind of get him acclimated. Our extended [spring training] program ended on March 27 and we didn’t want him to sit idle while we waited for … the June Draft players to show up. This was an opportunity for us to continue to move him forward and continue his progression.

He’s already pitched against some of these players that are down in extended — I think they played a 50-game schedule down there, so it’s not like it was his first game. He’s been pitching since Spring Training ended, he was ready. We kept him under control, around 15 innings down there in extended.

On innings limits or restrictions going forward:

I’d rather not say. We will have some restrictions on him, that’s what I will tell you, but I won’t give you an exact number or a date or time or how many throws he will make. But we will have some strict guidelines on him throughout the rest of the year.

He may not be here long. It was short little experiment for us to kind of keep him moving after we ended extended and now it’s blew up and become a big thing. These things are normal when we sign a kid so young.

On what Loons coaches are working on him with:

It’s really just monitoring him with his delivery and making sure it’s consistent. And he’ll have his throwing program in between. We’ll treat him like we did in extended. We’ll try and make sure we keep him consistent with the actual throwing programs and our pitching regimen.

On the corrective eye surgery Urias needed:

He did have something with his eyes, but it was not a tumor. It’s been something that we’ve had addressed by our physician and doctors. It’s almost like a lazier eye lid, but it’s nothing that affects him with his vision or his performance.

It was seen when the kid came over before we signed him, and he went through all  the tests to make sure he was healthy and that there wasn’t anything that was going to harm the kid prior to agreeing the terms of the deal.

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