Julio Urias started the season with 10 2/3 scoreless innings until a rough third outing halted his hot start. But on Monday, he proved he is back and better than ever.
The Dodgers' second-ranked prospect tossed six one-hit frames while tying a career high with 10 strikeouts before Double-A Tulsa fell in 12 innings to Arkansas, 1-0, at Dickey-Stephens Park.
"He was commanding his fastball, his changeup was outstanding and his breaking ball -- he threw all his pitches for strikes. They had no chance to hit him," Tulsa manager Razor Shines said. "He would've gotten out Major League clubs tonight, he was that good."
Travelers' No. 2 hitter Chad Hinshaw singled in the first, but Urias quickly erased the runner by catching him wandering off first for his second pickoff of the season.
"He's such a crafty kid. This kid is really good at knowing the game of baseball at such a young age. He knew it was a baserunner that could steal a base and he picked him off. he set it up and picked him off," Shines said. "He knows what he's doing. He knows how to hold runners beyond his years. It's a pleasure to watch him work."
MLB.com's No. 8 overall prospect was perfect for the next 5 1/3 innings in what Shines considers the best he's seen out of the 18-year-old. For the second time this season, he hit double digits in punchouts.
Urias allowed five runs on six hits through four frames on April 21 at Corpus Christi, but with two scoreless outings to start the year, the southpaw is rocking a cool 2.18 ERA. Urias has racked up 26 strikeouts while only walking three across his four Texas League starts.
"When you don't walk people, you're around the plate and the fact that he's around the plate with all his pitches, makes him that much more dominant, makes him that much more hard to hit," Shines said. "This guy can pitch and he's 18 years old. Should be finishing his senior year in high school and he's making Double-A look real easy.
"He's got a much older demeanor than 18 years old. This kid has been around the game it seems like forever, just the way he handles things."
After Urias exited in the sixth, the Tulsa bullpen took over for five hitless innings. Dodgers' No. 11 prospect Chris Reed, Blake Smith, Jeremy Horst and Jorge De Leon continued to blank batters while issuing five walks heading into the 12th.
"They all threw the ball extremely well," the skipper said. "Obviously, we ended up walking a few more kids than we wanted to, but that's part of the game."
Meanwhile, the home-team pitchers were doing the same for the Travelers. Starter Albert Suarez scattered five hits over six frames and the bullpen held the Drillers to one hit for the rest of the game.
De Leon (0-1) got two quick outs to start the home half of the 12th before Kentrail Davis and Wade Hinkle worked walks. Pinch-hitter Anthony Bemboom singled to shallow right field and second baseman Brandon Dixon stretched for the ball but threw it away, allowing Davis to score the walk-off run on the error.
"He was focused on making the play at first base. He dove into short right field to make an outstanding play -- I mean it was a ball that everyone thought was through and Brandon somehow came up with it," Shines said. "It was a really nice stop and he rolled over and threw wide to first.
"It's a shame a kid has to get an error when he makes that kind of play, but that's the game we're playing."
After working around a walk in the top of the 12th, Angels' No. 22 prospect Nate Hyatt (1-0) struck out the side to pick up the win.
Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.