Anytime a prospect does well, the fan base wants said prospect in the majors as soon as possible. Patience is definitely not a virtue for most, and the Julio Urias situation is no exception.
As the end of the minor-league season is upon us (Sunday), many folks are wondering if Urias is a potential call-up candidate. Most of them are fans on Twitter, but an article by Jim Callis at MLB Pipeline today really took me by surprise.
The headline reads, “Pipeline Perspectives: Urias worthy of a callup.” The subheadline reads, “Though promotion is unlikely, 18-year-old lefty could help Dodgers in stretch run.” At least there’s that. Let me peel back the curtain a bit. Writers at big, professional websites and news outlets don’t write headlines for their articles/stories. So, when Mike writes a really awesome piece for ESPN Insider and the headline makes you cock your head like a dog, don’t blame Mike. I’m assuming that’s what happened in this situation.
Keith Law also chimed in on Twitter. Thanks to Dave/Bob/Justin — whichever name he’s using this week because he’s clearly one person — who brought it to Law’s attention.
@DavePomerantz Yes. That’s just stupid.
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) August 27, 2014
Callis does throw in plenty of qualifiers in his article, including this one:
“Of course, the chances that the Dodgers will bring up Urias are roughly equivalent to the odds that the franchise will move back to Brooklyn. The reasons are many: he’s barely 18, he’s three levels away from the Majors, they don’t want to add more stress on his arm, he doesn’t have to be protected on the 40-man roster until after the 2016 season.”
Exactly. The biggest reason is the number 18. Urias is 18 years old. There’s no doubt he could pitch in the majors — and probably have some success — this season, but what’s the rush? Yeah, the Dodgers have J.P. Howell and “lefty” specialist Jamey Wright in the bullpen right now, but Paco Rodriguez is on the mend. If he can come back healthy, and there’s not much of a reason to doubt it, the Dodgers will be just fine. And, as Daniel pointed out in the comments section, Urias is still younger than Clayton Kershaw was when he was drafted. Just think about that for a minute.
I’m the biggest prospect nut you know, and even I don’t want Urias recalled now. Hell, I’d be hesitant to promote him in September of next year, just because arms like this don’t come around often. There is no need to rush him. Urias has one more start this season — Friday in Lake Elsinore. The Dodgers have started to stretch Urias out, as he’s thrown no fewer than 80 pitches in his last three starts. He’s at 82 2/3 innings, up from 54 1/3 innings in his debut season. I thought he might get some consideration for the Arizona Fall League (and he still could), but to expect an 18-year-old to come up and positively contribute to a World Series contending team is unrealistic.
While we’re at it, Corey Seager isn’t coming up either. I got questions on Twitter after it was announced he was going to the Arizona Fall League about him coming up to the Dodgers. I’ll say this: Urias would be recalled before Seager, but neither of them will be recalled.
There was one really awesome quote from Callis’ story from Vice President, Player Development De Jon Watson.
“‘When I went to watch him pitch in the Midwest League, my hands started sweating. We had Clayton Kershaw in the Midwest League during my first year with the Dodgers, and my hands didn’t sweat with him. I’ve never seen a kid this talented, this young. It’s crazy.
“‘When Urias was in the Midwest League, he could have gone to Double-A if you took his age out of it and just went with his ability and stuff. His ability to read swings and to adjust what hitters are trying to do to him is impressive.'”
Don’t worry, folks. Urias will be up before you know it. But his arm isn’t ready for the added stress of a pennant run. He wouldn’t be what Francisco Rodriguez was to the Angels in 2002. Very few 18-year-old pitchers have been successful in the majors. That isn’t a coincidence. Maybe Urias is the next Fernando Valenzuela or Felix Hernandez (both made their debuts in their age-19 seasons). He could best both of them by debuting in 2015, but let’s put to bed the idea of seeing him in a Dodger uniform in 2014.