Have you ever thought about how annoying it is that the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw? They don't deserve nice things, for one. For another, what is a team doing with the seventh-overall pick in the draft when they have as much money and as many resources as the Dodgers? And, finally, why didn't the Royals, Rays, Pirates, Mariners, or Tigers pick him? He was obviously one of the best pitchers of all-time. He said with the benefit of hindsight.
Still. They shouldn't get a No. 7 pick that turns into a Hall of Famer. It's not fair. It's fine when a small-market team does that, or when a team that shares a big market makes a pick like that. But Kershaw's existence as a cosmically talented nemesis annoys me.
Now that you're properly annoyed, here's a chance to be even more annoyed: Julio Urias is going to make his first major league start on Friday. He is become death, destroyer of worlds. He is the best pitching prospect the world has seen since, well, Clayton Kershaw. And it also annoys me that the Dodgers have him.
Let's listen to the evaluation of noted smart/squicky guy Zack Greinke:
Former #Dodgers RHP Zack Greinke described Julio Urias to me this spring as "the most perfect pitching prospect I’ve ever seen." 1/2— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 26, 2016
I asked Greinke why. He said: 1. Urias is left-handed. 2. Stuff is plus-plus. 3. "He’s nasty, but not so nasty you think he’ll blow out."— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 26, 2016
What does "so nasty you think he'll blow out" mean? I remember years ago, when Francisco Liriano was the flavor in your ear, Roy Oswalt gave a scouting report that translated to "Amazing stuff! Also, he's gonna get hurt." There doesn't seem to be a lot of violence in Urias' delivery. There doesn't seem to be anything objectionable about his scouting report at all. Here are some quotes from Baseball America's 2016 Prospect Handbook:
With a smooth delivery and easy arm action, Urias fills the zone with plus or better stuff across the board.
Pffft, when you take the special parts out, it doesn't sound so special.
His fastball sits at 90-95 mph, touches 97, and plays up because he hides the ball so well.
Oh, like Derek Law. Big deal.
blah blah blah curveball blah blah blah change up blah blah blah
Okay, that's paraphrasing, but it's basically what was in there. He's just about the perfect prospect, like Greinke said, and here's what he did in Triple-A to start the season:
He was scoreless over his last three starts, including a start in Colorado Springs. It was basically the best possible start the Dodgers could have hoped for.
And now that we've recounted all of these gaudy stats, evaluations, and warnings, we can get to the best/worst part: He's 19. A pitching prospect's age doesn't necessarily correlate with an upward career trend -- hello, Jerome Williams -- like it does with the youngest hitting prospects, but it's still rare to see a teenaged pitcher with this kind of command.
When Dwight Gooden came up, it was after an 18-year-old season in which he walked 112 in 191 Class-A innings. Felix Hernandez was walking nearly five batters for every nine innings in the Pacific Coast League when he joined the Mariners for good. There have been 10 pitchers to make a start in the majors in their age-19 season over the last 10 years. Almost all of them had higher walk rates.
Almost all of them.
Yeah, that's probably the best comp we have right now, at least as far as size, stuff, and command. Urias didn't have any velocity weirdness like Bumgarner did in 2009 and early 2010, and his secondary pitches might be even more developed. But if you remember how Madison Bumgarner came right into the majors, threw strikes, and never looked back, you have an idea of what the Dodgers are expecting from Urias.
If you're looking for words of comfort, I can provide them. For several years now, the Dodgers have not won the World Series with the best pitcher on the planet. In 2010, the Giants won the World Series after starting the season with Todd Wellemeyer in the rotation. One hotshot rookie does not a dynasty make.
But I don't do these kinds of AIIIIEEEEEE posts often. Urias has been in my anxiety closet for about two years now. He's here. I'm not a fan of that concept.
Seriously, though, why didn't the Mariners draft Kershaw, the dummies?