Julio César Urías Acosta (born August 12, 1996) is a Mexican professional baseball pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball (MLB).
Urías was promoted to the Los Angeles Dodgers to make his major league debut against the New York Mets on May 27, 2016. At only 19 years of age, he was the youngest starting pitcher to debut in the Majors since Félix Hernández in the 2005 season and the youngest Dodgers starting pitcher to debut since 18 year old Rex Barney in the 1943 season. He struggled in his debut, lasting only 2 ⁄3 innings while allowing five hits, three runs and four walks. He did strikeout three, including the first batter he faced, Curtis Granderson. He was optioned back to AAA after the game. Three days later, he was returned to the active roster after starter Alex Wood went on the disabled list. Urías made his second start on June 2 against the Chicago Cubs. In 5 innings pitched, he gave up 6 runs (5 earned), which included 3 home runs. He allowed 8 hits, and struck out 4. He picked up his first major league win, against the Milwaukee Brewers, on June 28, 2016, when he allowed two runs on two hits in six innings. He was the first teenage Dodger pitcher to throw 100 pitches in a game since Joe Moeller in 1962. He pitched in 18 games for the Dodgers, 15 of them starts, and was 5–2 with a 3.39 ERA, 84 strikeouts and 31 walks. He led the major leagues in pickoffs, with six.
Urías is the son of Carlos Urías. He played with the Mexico national team as a youth, joining them on road trips since the age of 10. At age 14, Urías met Los Angeles Dodgers scout Mike Brito, who had first scouted Fernando Valenzuela. In June 2012, the Dodgers discovered 15-year-old Urías at a showcase in Oaxaca, on the same scouting trip in Mexico on which they signed Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers signed him on August 12, his 16th birthday. The Dodgers paid a signing fee of $450,000, most of which went to the Diablos Rojos del México of the Mexican League.
Urías made his professional debut on May 25, 2013, for the Great Lakes Loons in the Midwest League as the youngest player in the league, striking out six batters over three shutout innings. He made a total of 18 starts and finished the season 2–0 with a 2.48 ERA, recording 67 strikeouts in 54.1 innings. He spent 2014 with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League. In 25 appearances (20 of which were starts), he was 2–2 with a 2.36 ERA. He struck out 109 batters while walking only 37.
Urías was ranked by MLBpipeline.com as the top left-handed pitching prospect in all of baseball entering the 2015 season. MLB.com ranked him the 8th-best prospect in baseball, and Baseball America named him the #10 prospect in 2015. The Dodgers assigned him to the AA Tulsa Drillers of the Texas League to start the 2015 season. He was 3–4 with a 2.77 ERA in 13 starts for Tulsa.
Urías's primary pitch is a fastball with a typical velocity between 90 and 95 miles per hour, peaking at 97. He also throws a low-80s changeup, curveball, and slider. His curveball initially had primarily horizontal movement, resembling a slurve. During the 2016 season, he altered his grip to add vertical movement. He began using the slider in 2015. Urías is also known for his pickoff move, leading the major leagues in his rookie season with six pickoffs.
Urías was selected to play for the World team at the 2014 All-Star Futures Game and was selected as the Dodgers organizational "Minor League Pitcher of the Year" for 2014. He received an invitation to attend the team's 2015 major league spring training camp. After pitching in two games, for a total of two innings and a 4.50 ERA, he was the first to be cut from the roster and was reassigned to the team's minor league camp on March 14, 2015.
Urías underwent three surgeries on his left eye during his youth to remove a benign mass. As a result, his left eye is nearly closed, but he is able to see through it. When asked about his eye condition, Urías, a devout Roman Catholic, said, "That's how God works. He gave me a bad left eye but a good left arm." On May 19, 2015, Urías had elective surgery to correct the condition.
Urias was promoted to the AAA Oklahoma City Dodgers on August 31, 2015. He struggled in his first AAA action, allowing nine runs in 4 ⁄3 innings over two starts. He also allowed six runs, including a grand slam homer, in just one inning in his one start in the Pacific Coast League playoffs. He was again invited to attend Dodgers spring training. He was assigned to AAA to begin the season, where he was 4–1 with a 1.10 ERA in seven starts. He also had a 27 inning scoreless streak during the month of May for Oklahoma City.
Urías was scheduled to begin 2019 in the bullpen to reduce his innings in the early going, but injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill led to him beginning the season in the rotation. He started four games at the start, including a nine strikeout game (in six innings) while allowing only one hit against the Brewers on April 18, after which he joined the bullpen. He picked up his first career save on May 6 against the Atlanta Braves.