Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dodgers' prospect Julio Urias, 16, makes impressive pro debut at Low-A

In an extremely surprising and aggressive move, the Dodgers on Sunday added 16-year-old Julio Urias to the Great Lakes Loons' roster. He made his professional debut while skipping the three lowest levels of the minor leagues.

Not often do teenagers -- especially 16-year-olds -- pitch in the Midwest League. All signs had him pitching in the Dominican Summer League or, at best, the Arizona Rookie League. Alas, here he is pitching in full-season ball at the age of 16.

Well, perhaps the Dodgers know something we don't. Urias struck out the side in his first professional inning of work against the Dayton Dragons (Reds' affiliate).

Urias, my No. 26 prospect coming into the season, has a fastball that sits in the upper-80s and already touches 92 MPH. He has a changeup that has a chance to be a plus pitch. He also has a curveball that acts a lot like a slider. It's sharp and has good bite to it. It isn't as loopy as a curveball. He struck out Zach Vincej on the pitch to begin his career.

Clearly on a pitch count, Urias threw 52 pitches in his debut and posted the following line:
  • 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K
Keep in mind, the average age of a Midwest League player (in 2009, at least) is roughly 22 years old. Urias is facing players -- on average -- six years his senior. His debut was nothing short of amazing.

Urias was a high-profile signing for the Dodgers last summer. He was considered to be one of the top international arms available.

True Blue LA's Craig Minami caught up with Baseball Prospectus' prospect guru Jason Parks in spring training, and the two talked a bit about Urias.
"'There is some projection, it is more pitching ability thing. (Urias has a) 85-90 MPH fastball right now that a lot observers think it can fall into that more of that 89-90 maybe 92-93 plus, from the left side, (has good) movement, you know that's a plus pitch. (Urias) already has a feel for curve ball and change up.'"
Loons' play-by-play announcer Jared Sandler said Urias was working at 88-94 MPH with the fastball in his first start. A 16-year-old throwing 94 MPH is crazy.

A potential plus fastball, plus changeup and maybe a plus breaking pitch -- sign me up.

It's a bit early to call this kid the next Johan Santana or Tom Glavine, but with all the scouting reports and talk, it's hard not to get excited.

The Dodgers could use a top-flight pitching prospect -- a guy destined for the top of the rotation. I'm not saying Urias is an ace or No. 2, but he might have the best chance to be that guy of anyone in the farm system.

It's weird to be gushing about a teenager, but baseball leads us to do strange, if not creepy things sometimes.

Photo credit: screenshot


  1. I just think about what I was doing or not doing at 16. It is amazing.

  2. No kidding. Pretty amazing when you really think about it.