17-year-old pitcher Julio Urias, a Mexican native, started Saturday afternoon’s Cactus League game against the Padres. The lefty tossed a perfect first inning, striking out two before departing. The Dodgers signed Urias in August 2012 and he made his professional baseball debut last year with Single-A Great Lakes, finishing with a 2.48 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings.
All of that is impressive enough, but Urias has loftier goals in mind:
As MLB Network Radio’s Mike Ferrin noted on Twitter, if Urias does make his Major League debut, he would be the first to do so at the age of 17 or younger since Larry Dierker in 1964. Dierker made one start and two relief appearances, racking up nine innings in which he allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out five.
Urias is expected to start the season with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, according to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times.
Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.
No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.
Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.
Set some time aside to read this today.
This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.
De La Rosa has had elbow issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.
I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.
He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.