Once one of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ most highly touted pitching prospects, Julio Urias has dominating stuff despite being partially blind in his left eye. Coming off major shoulder surgery stemming from a 2017 injury, Urias has never had the opportunity to tap into his full potential as a big leaguer as injuries have plagued his young career. He returned from his shoulder injury to pitch well out of the bullpen during the 2018 playoffs but is forced back into the starting rotation in 2019 with Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill on the shelf with injuries.
Finally, with a healthy offseason under his belt and ready to go in 2019, Urias will look to show off the skills that made scouts fell in love with his potential. Still just 22 years old possessing a plus fastball and solid command of his offspeed pitches, Urias is an extremely crafty pitcher and great at setting up batters to catch them looking. His slider looks to be a pitch worth keeping an eye on as while it has above average bite now, it has the potential to be an extremely dangerous weapon as he matures at the big league level.
While his recent injury history at such a young age is worrisome, Urias has the raw stuff to be a front of the rotation starter in the MLB for years to come – if he can tame the injury bug. Between the droopy left eye and his mounds of raw talent, Julio Urias is a name worth keeping an eye on in the 2019 season.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Julio Urias is Partially Blind in his Left Eye
Julio Urias was born on August 12, 1996 in Cucliacan, Mexico with a benign mass on his left eye. As a child, Urias underwent three procedures to rectify the condition, leaving him with his trademark droopy eyelid. Urias still has the mass in his eye despite the three surgeries and almost always keeps his left eye closed. Most recently, Urias underwent a cosmetic procedure in 2015 on the eye.
The surgeries and remaining mass have left Urias partially blind in the left eye but have far from hampered his pitching prospects blazed through the minor leagues despite being only a teenager.
Speaking of Urias’ pitching exploits as a teenager…
2. Julio Urias Signed With the Dodgers on his 16th Birthday
The Dodgers’ interest in Urias actually dates back nearly two years before his 16th birthday. According to Urias, the courtship started even earlier and started with when he spoke with a Dodger Scout who convinced him that he would one day play for the Dodgers.
“When I was 14, I talked to Mike Brito and he told me I was going to be a Dodger, so that was just part of my dream.”
That Mike Brito would actually be the same Mike Brito who discovered a famous Dodger by the name of Fernando Valenzuela. Brito has also found over 30 other future MLB players for the Dodgers. All that is to say that this guy knows talent when he sees it.
As soon as Urias was eligible to sign with a major league club, on his 16th birthday, the Brito and the Dodgers scooped him up. Urias was sent to the single A affiliate Great Lakes Loons and proceeded with his assault on the minor leagues.
3. Julio Urias Pitched in the All-Star Futures Game When He Was Only 17
Urias would see himself promoted from low Single-A to high Single-A in 2014 and posted one of the best seasons across the minor leagues. Despite being just 17 years old, Urias earned a spot on the World team in the All-Star Futures game.
Urias would be the youngest player on either team by over a year, yet dazzled in his brief showing. Limited to only a single inning, Urias would strike out one and not allow a single hit in a quick 1-2-3 inning against a US team loaded with future MLB stars.
More than just being the youngest player on either team, at 17 years old Urias was the youngest player to EVER appear in the All-Star Futures Game. Many of the game’s brightest stars have gone through the Futures game since its inception in 1999, making his showing all that more impressive.
4. Julio Urias Made his Major League Debut on May 27th, 2016 at 19 Years Old
Just shy of two years after Urias became history and was the youngest player named to a Futures Game, he cracked the big league roster and got his first shot against the Mets on May 27th, 2016. At just 19 years old, Urias would struggle with his command in the debut. Throwing 81 pitches over 2 2/3 innings, the Mets worked four walks and picked up three runs against Urias in the outing.
Despite his struggles, Urias became the youngest pitcher to debut in the majors since Felix Hernandez in 2005 and would go on to post a very respectable 5-2 record across 15 starts with a 3.39 ERA for the Dodgers in 2016. While injuries would plague his 2017 and 2018 seasons, Urias is eyeing 2019 for a huge breakout campaign.
5. Julio Urias is a Devout Roman Catholic
Outside of baseball, Urias is a devout Roman Catholic and credits his faith for much of his success. Although he was dealt a rough hand with his partial blindness, the young lefty takes it in stride telling the LA Times:
“That’s how God works,” Urias said in Spanish. “He gave me a bad left eye but a good left arm.”
Urias’ parents, Carlos and Juana Isabel, are both Roman Catholic and upon hearing his son had made the major leagues, immediately stopped by La Lomita Virgen de Guadalupe Catholic Church to give thanks for Julio’s achievement.