Seager starts Futures Game in advance of promotion
Dodgers' other representative, Urias, tosses clean fifth inning for World team
MINNEAPOLIS -- Many folks, if they can afford it, take at least a few days off when they switch jobs. Corey Seager did this, except his was a working vacation.
Starting at shortstop, Seager went 0-for-1 and was hit by a pitch in Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game for the U.S. squad in its 3-2 victory over the World team. The experience was a nice transition for Seager, a reward of sorts. Because instead of returning to the Dodgers' Rancho Cucamonga Class A Advanced affiliate upon leaving Minnesota, Seager will join the organization's Double-A Chattanooga affiliate.
The 20-year-old understood the implications of his promotion. "They say that Double-A is the best competition ..." He didn't finish the sentence, but he didn't have to. Double-A is widely considered the primary stepping-stone en route to the Major Leagues -- a destination that has been envisioned for Seager since the Dodgers selected him in the first round (18th overall) of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
MLB.com ranked Seager as the Dodgers' top prospect and 28th-best among Minor Leaguers from all organizations.
Seager's participation in the Futures Game reaffirmed his reputation as one of Los Angeles' fastest-rising performers. After last season, when Seager missed 36 games with a hamstring injury, the Dodgers saw fit to send him to the Arizona Fall League. He hit .181 in 19 games for the Glendale Desert Dogs as the league's youngest player. But his modest batting average belied the valuable experience he gained.
"I'm not always going to face 'heaters' [fastballs] on 2-0 counts," Seager said, articulating one of the Fall League lessons he learned. "It's more of a challenge up there. It's more of a holding your firing position so you can wait on every pitch."
That last, highly technical remark of Seager's demonstrated his focus on hitting mechanics -- which he has maintained, as his Rancho Cucamonga output illustrated. He prompted his promotion by hitting .352 with 18 home runs, 70 RBIs and a 1.044 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
"I'm kind of a big mechanics guy. I like talking about that more than anything," Seager said.
He can readily consult others who speak his language, particularly his older brothers -- Kyle, a Mariners third baseman, and Justin, an infielder in Seattle's farm system. "I talk to both of them [almost] every night," Corey Seager said.
As a fourth-year Major Leaguer, Kyle can offer Corey especially sound advice. "He's gone through everything I've gone through," Corey said.
Plenty of buzz followed the Dodgers' other Futures Game participant, Julio Urias, to the mound. The buzz didn't last long -- not because Urias disappointed, but because he quickly disappeared. The 17-year-old Mexican left-hander, who consistently impresses observers with his maturity as well as his stuff, threw only 14 pitches in a perfect fifth inning.
Urias left the fuss of being the game's youngest player to others. "I felt normal, like I was pitching a Minor League game," he said through an interpreter.
Due to Urias' youth, the Dodgers are bringing him along slowly. With a repertoire that features a fastball, slider and changeup, he has pitched only 52 1/3 innings over 17 appearances, including 13 starts. Then again, he's performing at the Class A Advanced level at his tender age. And he has compiled a creditable 3.44 ERA with 58 strikeouts, an average of more than one per inning.
Urias thoroughly enjoyed his Futures Game experience.
"Since we had breakfast until tonight, it's been great," he said.