Highly touted prospects Julio Urias and Jose De Leon are sent to the minor leagues by the Dodgers

Julio Urias and Jose De Leon, the highest-touted pitching prospects in the Dodgers’ farm system, were reassigned to minor-league camp on Thursday afternoon as the team trimmed seven players.

The Dodgers optioned infielder Micah Johnson and pitchers Yaisel Sierra, Ross Stripling and Ian Thomas. Also sent to minor-league camp was catcher Jack Murphy.

Neither Urias, 19, nor De Leon, 23, were particularly impressive during Cactus League action. De Leon had a 7.50 earned-run average in three games. Urias dealt with a minor leg issue and finished with a 12.00 ERA in two outings.

Despite their struggles, Manager Dave Roberts raved about both. Urias, a left-hander from Mexico, is considered one of the best prospects in baseball. Roberts has repeatedly described him as “special” and pointed to evidence of his evolution this spring.

“He’s been in camp before, but the way his body has matured, his head, I hear he’s a lot more comfortable from people who were here last year,” Roberts said. “Just his bullpens have been good, his work’s been good.”

De Leon had never before received an invitation to big-league camp. Roberts said the pitcher benefited from the experience, even if it mostly involved seeing how top-level hitters deal with mistake pitches.

“To go out there and face major-league hitters, when you don’t execute pitches, we saw the results,” Roberts said. “So it was one of those things where you never want guys to get hit around, but as a young pitcher, it’s good to understand that there’s some room to grow. He’s going to pitch in the big leagues. He’s a great young man, and he’s got a nice future ahead of him.”

Johnson has played well this spring, but the team needs to give more at-bats to other second basemen like Howie Kendrick and Chase Utley. The Dodgers are moving slowly with Sierra as he gets used to the customs of American life after signing out of Cuba this winter.


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