As the Tulsa Drillers wrapped up a series against the Springfield Cardinals on Wednesday at ONEOK Field, Los Angeles Dodgers pitching prospect Julio Urias took a few moments to answer some questions from the media.
Urias entered Wednesday with 1-3 record and 3.29 ERA in eight starts for Double-A Tulsa this season. Now 18 years old, a starting pitcher for the Drillers, and recently ranked as the second-best prospect still in the minor leagues by Sports Illustrated, Urias took some time to talk about his eye condition and pitching prowess.
After undergoing a cosmetic procedure in late May to remove a benign mass from his left eye that caused the eyelid to droop, the Los Angeles Dodgers prospect missed a month of action before returning to action on July 10 and the mound at ONEOK Field on July 26.
Q: Has the condition bothered you in the past?
A: It really didn’t ever affect me. I was born like that. The Dodgers wanted me to have surgery this year. I accepted it and had it done. Now I’m moving forward. It will now be easier for me to clean out. It hasn’t made a big difference yet but it also won’t be a problem.
Growing up, people made fun of me because of it. I’ve always stood out, but I think I’ve stood out because I was always the best one on the team. I’m thankful for God’s blessings. I don’t let what people say affect me or my game. I think you gain people’s respect by what you do out on the field.
Q: You’re one of the highest-ranked prospects in the majors. Does that put pressure on you?
A: No, I try to stay humble and just be another guy on the team. I always want to respect my teammates and do what I have to do to get better. Being a top prospect really doesn’t mean anything to me.
Q: What do you work on to “get better?”
A: I try to learn something new every day. I try to learn from every coach I’m around. I always want to keep my ears open for small details that can help me improve as a player. I just want to focus on my pitching.
Q: What’s your reaction that the Dodgers have said you are “untouchable” when it comes to trades?
A: It’s been great that the Dodgers think that about me. I also know you never know what can happen. My focus right now is on pitching and taking that next step to get to the big leagues.
Q: You’re 18 so is there any impact of pitching to players much older than you?
A: No. Since I was a little kid, I’ve always played against older guys. That doesn’t bother me.
Q: What will it take for you to reach the majors?
A: When the Dodgers think I’m ready, I’ll be ready. Right now, I’m just going to focus on going out and competing against whomever I am playing against. I’ll keep pitching. I’ll keep working between starts and making adjustments. I’ll be ready.
With my time off following the surgery, I still need to find my rhythm and make adjustments. Once I find that, I will be closer to making the major leagues.
Q: Is there a pitcher that you model yourself after or compare yourself to?
A: I don’t really compare myself to anyone else. My baseball idol is actually a hitter, David Ortiz.