Triple-A Oklahoma City pitching coach Matt Herges is running out of superlatives to describe Julio Urias. Considering the season is only six weeks old, he may have to buy a thesaurus.
MLB.com's second overall prospect took another big step toward the big leagues on Saturday, firing six scoreless innings as the Dodgers edged Las Vegas, 1-0, Chickasaw Bricktown Park. Urias allowed three hits and two walks while fanning six, extending his scoreless streak to 22 innings and lowering his ERA to a Pacific Coast League-leading 1.25.
In Herges' mind, there's not much left he can say -- or do -- for the 19-year-old left-hander.
"In my report tonight, I commented that I wasn't sure if there's much more for him to prove," Herges said. "He's showing he's big league-ready now, in my opinion. But I don't make those calls. We have some very smart people that make those decisions and they know what they're doing. But right now, he's just dominating Triple-A lineups.
"Coming into the season, I had a checklist of things I had for him to work on and he's been able to cross those things off. How he handles himself in-game has gotten so much better. The frustration he used to show hindered his performance and it hurt the next pitch. That's gone. How he holds runners was another box that needed to be checked off, and that's done. Tipping his pitches, that's checked. There's always something to work on, but the things I was most concerned about in terms of his big league readiness, those boxes have been checked."
The Dodgers' top prospect allowed five baserunners but faced just one batter over the minimum, thanks to a pair of pickoffs and two double plays. According to Herges, it wasn't as easy a start for his protégé as it may have looked, and that pleased the Major League veteran.
"Well, it was different tonight in that he really didn't have his secondary pitches," Herges said. "His off-speed stuff was nasty, but the hitters weren't swinging at them, so he dominated a pretty good lineup with just his fastball. But how he adjusted ... he just continues to blow me away with his aptitude. As young and talented as he is, he still has such a feel for correcting things right away. I don't know of another 19-year-old out there who can do that. It's impressive and it lets me sit back, shake my head and smile knowing I'm in the presence of someone special."
While Urias was on top of his game, Las Vegas' Rafael Montero matched him inning for inning. The 25-year-old right-hander didn't allow a hit until the fifth and surrendered only two to go with two walks and a season-high seven strikeouts in six innings. It was the type of game Herges loves.
"It was domination all the way around tonight," he said. "Montero has a low fastball that's really pretty to watch. If he controls his secondary stuff, especially when he's behind in the count, he can be a pretty good pitcher. If you're a baseball purist, you loved what you saw tonight -- just guys mowing through the opposing lineups."
The scoreless duel ended when Jack Murphy homered off Jeff Walters leading off the eighth, giving an excitable crowd of 9,975 something to really cheer about.
"Murphy hitting that home run was really cool," Herges said. "You're slapping high-fives after the game and smiling. It was just a great game to be a part of. When the fans were chanting, 'Murphy, Murphy, Murphy,' it was really cool to hear and see."
Matt West (1-0) picked up the win, yielding a hit and striking out one in a scoreless inning.
Walters (1-2) surrendered a run on two hits and a walk in his only frame.
Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB.