Friday marked the Major League debut of 19-year-old phenom Julio Urias the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline. Its clear, that Urias is the top prospect in the Dodgers farm system, but his debut had us wondering: who are the other top pitching prospects in the organization?
The following are the Dodgers top 5 best pitching prospects, and names that fans should remember as the future of the franchise is likely in their hands.
1. Julio Urias (Top Ranked Prospect)
Julio Urias, 19, is not only the best prospect in the Dodgers farm system but also the top left-handed pitching prospect in the entire game. He has a 1.25 ERA in seven appearances including a six inning no-hit outing against New Orleans.
“His feel for his pitches are well beyond his years,” Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes said. “His stuff’s plus and he knows what he wants to do in different situations and different counts. He can pitch in any situation.”
Nicknamed “the teenager,” Urias possesses a lively fastball that averages around 91-94 mph and peaks at 97. His effectiveness at changing speeds on his fastball makes his changeup virtually impossible to hit in the minor league level, and his big-breaking curveball is always lurking in the opposing hitters’ minds.
Dodger manager Dave Roberts so impressed with Urias’ growth that he was even public in the possibility of bringing him up to aide the bullpen, which could definitely use a spark.
2. Jose De Leon (2nd ranked prospect)
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Jose De Leon started the season recovering from an injury but he’s not too far behind compared to Urias. He started his season in Oklahoma City in a big way with a nine-strikeout performance in five innings against New Orleans. He’s since been on the Disabled List.
De Leon, 23, works with a fastball ranging around 92-94 mph and can reach 96 mph, similar to Urias. His changeup made great strides to the point where it’s his best secondary pitch. He also has a low-80s slider that can be very effective.
“[De Leon] has a good fastball and a really good changeup,” Barnes said. “He knows how to use his stuff.”
De Leon's control, command and overall mechanics has gotten better since he upgraded his conditioning.
3. Jharel Cotton (8th ranked prospect)
Jharel Cotton, 24, has a fastball that spiked towards 96 mph, which has led to him getting looks as a reliever. After struggling during the first four starts of the season, Cotton was moved to the bullpen and in his last four appearances, he has seven strikeouts and two earned runs in five innings.
Continuing in this role for the OKC Dodgers will likely lead to Cotton’s fast track to becoming the to become the second U.S. Virgin Island-born pitcher to reach the big leagues, following Al McBean.
4. Jacob Rhame (20th ranked prospect)
Until Cotton moved to the bullpen, Jacob Rhame, 23, was the Dodgers top relief prospect in Oklahoma City. Reason why is because he has a fastball that can reach 98 mph and sometimes 100 mph.
Rhame’s four-seamer has a lot of life and is sometimes aided by the deception in his delivery. He mixes his four-seamer with a two-seamer that ranges in the low 90s with some sink. Rhame is working on his slider that ranges around the upper 80s and can be the difference between OKC and LA.
5. Zach Lee (22nd ranked prospect)
At 90-94 mph, Zach Lee, 24, has the lowest fastball velocity among the top Dodger pitching prospects. Lee’s advantage is he is able to throw in more of a sinker with his fastball. His cutter/slider is his best secondary pitches. At this point, Lee doesn’t have a better-than-average pitch, so he survives with control and command.
“He’s a command guy,” Barnes said. “He likes to work both sides of the plate.”
Coming out of high school, teams initially thought Lee was unsignable because he was a good enough football player to be recruited by LSU to play quarterback and scouts believed he would surly choose SEC football over minor league baseball. The Dodgers made his decision a very easy one when they drafted him in the first round and signing him at the deadline for $5.25 million, a franchise record for a draftee.