Keeping an Eye on Julio Urias

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Dodgers left-handed pitcher Julio Urias is one of baseball’s top prospects. At 19, he is at a level in baseball most his age don’t often experience. Given that the southpaw’s birthday is in August, he very well could throw a major league pitch before the age of 20. There is increasing speculation he might be called up as a reliever, given Los Angeles’ bullpen woes coupled with Urias’ dominance at Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Kenley Jansen remains one of baseball’s best closers. With eleven saves, a 0.600 WHIP, and 0.68 ERA, it’s obvious he has not missed a step. Jansen has, and likely will continue to be, a mainstay in that capacity. The relief problem lies not in the closer, but rather in getting to him. Currently, the Dodgers are 18th in bullpen ERA in Major League Baseball at 4.02. The likes of J.P. Howell, Luis Avilan, Chris Hatcher, and Pedro Baez have not been too reliable.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, they found themselves in first place entering action May 9. Unfortunately for them, they have no breathing room. At 16-15, they are tied with the Giants at 17-16. To put things in context, the worst record in the N.L. West belongs to the San Diego Padres, but even with that record they are a mere 3.5 games out of first.

That is where Urias comes in. Maybe the Mexican young gun can give L.A. the boost it desperately needs. After his 81 pitch outing on Monday against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, he now has a 16 consecutive scoreless inning streak which began April 22. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweeted May 7 that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Urias was leading the discussions of the promotion of a prospect pitcher to join the bullpen. Jose De Leon and Jharel Cotton have also received speculation.

He won’t garner a ton of innings in 2016. However, the anticipation of his promotion grows by the day. MLB Pipeline has him rated as the second best prospect in all of baseball, behind only fellow pitching prospect Lucas Giolito of the Nationals. Still, Urias will get his shot at the majors first because Giolito is still in Double-A and has had some outings which could have been better. Giolito might see the big leagues by 2017 at the earliest. For Urias, meanwhile, the question isn’t if he joins thee big club in 2016, but when.

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