Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Has Julio Urias Emerged As A Must Buy For 2020…

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If the season had started on time the Dodgers’ Julio Urias, once one of the elite pitching prospects in the game, was going to be handcuffed by a strict innings limit.  He’s battled injuries for the past three seasons, severely limiting his mound work.  Just look at the total innings thrown between the minors and Majors:

  • 2017 – 54.2 IP
  • 2018 – 15.2 IP
  • 2019 – 81.2 IP

With a condensed 2020 campaign in our future the number of innings he’ll be able to throw is no longer a concern.  That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t face serious questions or that he should vault up your draft board.  There are going to be questions about his ability on the mound as well as having to overcome the Dodgers’ depth to be able to make regular starts.

Performance

Obviously the injuries and time spent coming out of the bullpen (he made 29 relief appearances in 2019) have helped to skew the results.  Still a look into the three key metrics from last year paints a picture for us:

  • Strikeouts – 9.60 K/9 (13.7% SwStr%)
  • Control – 3.05 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 38.7%

Considering all of the missed time his strikeout and walk rates are impressive.  The question is whether or not he’ll be able to keep the ball in the ballpark, with a Major League career 41.2% groundball rate. It’s a legitimate concern, but look at these key numbers:

  • Exit Velocity – 83.2 mph (lowest mark among qualified pitchers in ’19)
  • Barrels/PA – 2.8% (tied for 14th best mark among qualified pitchers)
  • Hard% – 35.4%
  • O-Swing% – 36.4%

He has proven that he can generate weak contact consistently, and that will help to overcome the lack of an elite groundball rate.  When coupled with the strikeouts and control, performance isn’t a huge risk.

Opportunity

It’s easy to dub this the biggest question for a team that’s consistently juggling it’s rotation.  Just look at the competition for starts that Urias faces:

  1. Wade Buehler
  2. Clayton Kershaw
  3. David Price
  4. Alex Wood
  5. Dustin May
  6. Ross Stripling
  7. Jimmy Nelson

You can argue that Urias is the third or fourth best option, but he also thrived coming out of the bullpen a year ago (2.01 ERA over 49.1 IP).  That could work at a disadvantage to Urias’ 2020 outlook.

Conclusion

There’s obviously risk involved, but the upside is far too great to ignore.  If he can claim a spot in the starting rotation for the bulk of the season he could easily produce as a Top 30 starter.  While he shouldn’t be drafted at that type of price, as a name to fill out your rotation his an easy player to target.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings:

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PositionLast Updated
Catcher04/13/20
First Baseman--
Second Baseman04/15/20
Shortstop04/17/20
Third Baseman04/20/20
Outfield04/24/20
Pitcher--

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