NEW YORK -- Fans and media aren't the only ones amped up over the promotion of Dodgers teenage pitching sensation Julio Urias to the Major Leagues, which the club announced on Thursday."It's a great organizational moment," Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations, said of the decision to start the 19-year-old
NEW YORK -- Fans and media aren't the only ones amped up over the promotion of Dodgers teenage pitching sensation Julio Urias to the Major Leagues, which the club announced on Thursday.
"It's a great organizational moment," Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations, said of the decision to start the 19-year-old left-hander Friday night at Citi Field against the Mets and Jacob deGrom.
"The guys that worked with him throughout the Minor Leagues couldn't be happier. He's a Dodger sign, he was developed in the system and he'll debut in a Dodgers uniform. It's a real special thing for a lot of departments and that makes it a fun thing for everybody."
Urias -- the top left-handed pitching prospect in the game and No. 2 overall prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com -- has been dominating this season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he is 4-1 with a 1.10 ERA, 44 strikeouts and eight walks in 41 innings with a 0.78 WHIP. He is currently riding a 27-inning scoreless streak.
Urias (pronounced: ooh-REE-ahs) will start in place of Alex Wood, who irritated a left triceps muscle swinging a bat two starts back and now is scheduled to start Monday in Chicago. Friedman said the decision to replace Wood with Urias was made Wednesday night.
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As the most anticipated arrival of a Dodgers pitcher since Clayton Kershaw in 2008, Urias will be the youngest starting pitcher in the Majors since Seattle's Felix Hernandez in 2005.
Friedman said that after Friday night's start, the club would assess whether it would be a one-time spot start or whether Urias could work his way into the rotation or bullpen. Urias has never pitched more than 87 2/3 innings in a season and that is the biggest hurdle for management to clear in determining just how much to ask of him.
"He's extremely talented, and his talent is a little ahead of his development," Friedman said. "It's not often a guy is this ready to perform well before he's built up to handle a Major League starter workload. It will require us to be creative, not just this year but at least next year as well.
"We haven't made a long-term determination to this point. Obviously we have to be mindful of his workload for the season."
Friedman has never publicly given an innings limit for Urias, but after watching Urias' progress from a year ago, combined with injuries to pitchers Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brett Anderson, he said by the end of Spring Training he suspected Urias was more likely to be promoted in the first half of the season than the second half.
He speculated that the club will strike a balance between starting and relief innings without ruling out a return to the Minor Leagues. He said using Urias in Major League relief is tricky because he's unaccustomed to quick warmups and throwing with no days or few days off. Urias' innings were limited to 80 last year, when he had in-season cosmetic surgery to address a benign cyst that partially closed his left eye, but did not affect his pitching.
MILB Video - Title: Urias notches the strikeout - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=718833783
The Dodgers purchased Urias from the Diablos Rojos of the Mexican League when he was 16 for a reported $450,000. The native of Mexico has often been compared to lefty countryman Fernando Valenzuela, whom Los Angeles promoted to the Major Leagues as a reliever in September 1980 before he launched his Fernandomania season of '81 as a starter, when he won both the National League Rookie of the Year Award and the NL Cy Young Award.
Urias, who is 19 years old, 288 days, will be the first 19-year-old to pitch for the Dodgers since Valenzuela, who was 19 years, 319 days in his debut on Sept. 15, 1980. (Edwin Jackson debuted on his 20th birthday in 2003). He will be the youngest Dodger to debut since Adrian Beltre was 19 years, 78 days at debut vs. the Angels on June 24, 1998, and the youngest Dodgers starting pitcher to debut since Rex Barney was 18 years, 242 days vs. the Cubs on Aug. 18, 1943. Urias will also become the youngest Dodgers starting pitcher since Dick Calmus, on Aug. 23, 1963. He is roughly four months younger than Kershaw was when he debuted in 2008.
The last player of any position who was younger than Urias at the time of his debut was Jurickson Profar, who was 19 years old, 195 days, when he debuted for the Rangers on Sept. 2, 2012. Bryce Harper and Beltre are the two other active position players who were younger than Urias when they debuted.
The most recent five starting pitchers who were younger than Urias at time of their debut:
• Hernandez, SEA, 8/4/2005
• Todd Van Poppel, OAK, 9/11/1991
• Wilson Alvarez, CHW, 7/24/89
• Dwight Gooden, NYM, 4/7/84
• Britt Burns, CHW, 8/5/75
Friday's Dodgers-Mets matchup, an MLB Network Showcase game, can be seen free on MLB.TV and will feature MLB Plus -- MLB.com's data-driven online broadcast that uses Statcast™ and other analytical and broadcast elements to deliver an in-depth discussion about both the action on the field and the big picture.
To make room on their active roster for Urias, the Dodgers optioned left-hander Luis Avilan to Triple-A on Thursday. The club will have to make another move to open up a spot on its 40-man roster.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Mixed-league owners should rush out to the waiver wire to add Urias right away. Simply put, the left-hander is as highly regarded as any pitcher in the Minor Leagues. Just 19 years old, Urias has posted a 1.10 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP across 41 innings in Triple-A this season. Though the Dodgers have not made a long-term commitment to keeping him in their rotation, they are currently 4 1/2 games behind the Giants in the NL West and may need to make the bold move of leaving Urias in their starting quintet if he fares well on Friday. But even if the southpaw bounces back and forth between starting assignments and multiple-inning relief appearances, he could have a positive impact on mixed-league squads.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.