Dodgers prospect Julio Urias impresses in live batting practice

Dodgers prospect Julio Urias impresses in live batting practice
Dodgers pitching prospect Julio Urias signs a ball for a fan during the team's first pitchers and catchers workout Feb. 20. (John Locher / Associated Press)

Shortly after facing 18-year-old left-hander Julio Urias in live batting practice Sunday, Alex Guerrero sat at his locker and shook his head.

"When he threw a fastball, I couldn't see it," Guerrero said in Spanish. "The movement was distinct. He threw me two high fastballs, but I couldn't see them. I swung for the sake of swinging, but I couldn't see them."


The consensus No. 1 pitching prospect in the Dodgers farm system, the hard-throwing Urias pitched two innings to four batters: Guerrero, Joc Pederson, Chris Heisey and O'Koyea Dickson.

The session attracted several notable observers, including Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, General Manager Farhan Zaidi, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and hitting coach Mark McGwire.

Urias said the group's presence didn't make him nervous.

"I have to do my work and forget about what's behind me or in front of me," he said in Spanish.

Guerrero, a 28-year-old infielder who represented Cuba at several international tournaments, said he was surprised by Urias' composure.

"He already looks like a veteran on the mound," Guerrero said. "Tremendous prospect. Good pitcher."

Guerrero nodded and continued: "Good, good, good, good."

Heisey, who is expected to be the right-handed hitting component of a center-field platoon with Pederson, offered a similar opinion of Urias. Heisey was particularly impressed with Urias' ability to change speeds.

"His fastball is pretty good, and he offsets that with his changeup," Heisey said. "The changeup I saw was really good, especially if he can learn to pitch it with that upper-90s fastball. Then that changeup away to righties will be devastating."

Urias said he expects to pitch Friday in a Cactus League game. The Dodgers have a couple of split-squad games that day: at home against the Seattle Mariners and in nearby Maryvale against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Urias started a Cactus League game last year and pitched a perfect inning against the San Diego Padres.