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Dodger teen-age phenom prospect Julio Urias turned 18 today – what Los Angeles Dodgers debuted as teen-agers?

August 12, 2014

The Future


Arguably the best pitching prospect in the Dodger system turned 18 years old today. Julio Urias raised eyebrows all over baseball when he was pitching in Low A ball at the tender age of 16. He has spent all of this summer pitching in High A ball as a 17-year-old, but that all changed today. The Dodgers have fast tracked Urias like no other prospect in their history. Even as great as Kershaw was, he was still pitching in rookie ball as an 18-year-old, two levels below where Urias sits right now.

Given how fast tracked Urias has been, the expectation would be AA next year, and a possible Sept promotion as a 19-year-old and maybe just maybe a rotation spot in 2016. Inconceivable? Maybe

How have other Los Angeles Dodger teenagers fared?

Carl Crawford was an early 1960’s bonus baby before the draft existed out of Los Angeles, and played on the 1964 team as a 17-year-old outfielder. He followed that up with a little time in 1965 becoming the only LA Dodger to play for the team as a 17 or 18-year-old.  When it comes to 19,  many players make the cut. Subtracting out the four pitchers from below, you have eight different 19-year-old Dodgers. As you can see Bucker, Valentine, Griffith, and Crawford barely sniffed an at bat as 19 year olds leaving Beltre, Reyes, Karim Garica,  and Fairly. Ron Fairly out produced Beltre but in only 53 at bats. Beltre is the only 19 year old who was part of the regular lineup. But was Beltre really during his time in the lineup?  Indeed he was, and would not turn 20 until April 7th, 1999.

Player              PA Year Age  AB  H HR   BA  OBP  SLG
Adrian Beltre      214 1998  19 195 42  7 .215 .278 .369
Bill Buckner         1 1969  19   1  0  0 .000 .000 .000
Bobby Valentine      0 1969  19   0  0                 0
Derrell Griffith     2 1963  19   2  0  0 .000 .000 .000
Gil Reyes           32 1983  19  31  5  0 .161 .188 .226
Karim Garcia        20 1995  19  20  4  0 .200 .200 .200
Ron Fairly          60 1958  19  53 15  2 .283 .350 .415
Willie Crawford      0 1966  19   0  0                 0
Willie Crawford     17 1964  17  16  5  0 .313 .353 .375
Willie Crawford     29 1965  18  27  4  0 .148 .207 .148

Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/12/2014. Four pitchers have pitched for the Dodgers as teenagers, all at 19. No one has pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers before the age of 19.

Player                  IP Year Age  G GS W L BB SO  ERA  FIP ERA+
Joe Moeller           85.2 1962  19 19 15 6 5 58 46 5.25 5.09   69
Dick Calmus           44.0 1963  19 21  1 3 1 16 25 2.66 3.32  114
Edwin Jackson         22.0 2003  19  4  3 2 1 11 19 2.45 4.12  167
Fernando Valenzuela   17.2 1980  19 10  0 2 0  5 16 0.00      1.79

Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/12/2014.

One of the least known pitchers in Dodger history, Joe Moeller was actually in the Dodger rotation to start the 1962 season and made his debut April 12th. I can just imagine the expectations of a 19-year-old pitching for the Dodgers at their new park, with the likes of Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax.  It must have reached a fever pitch when he pitched a complete game, one earned run in just his third start. He followed that up with seven innings of one run ball. There would be more highlights but in the end Joe Moeller simply did not have the right stuff.

Dick Calmus was a relief pitcher who made his debut on April 22nd, 1963. As you can see he pitched in 21 games.  Calmus would not surface again until 1967 for the Cubs and only pitch in one more major league game.

You might have heard of Fernando, and the legend of his relief work in Sept of 1980. I was lucky enough to watch it, and yeah, it was fucking awesome.

Edwin Jackson easily had the best 19 year debut, maybe the best in history when he defeated Randy Johnson on his 20th birthday in 2003. I was going insane watching that game, but  the reality for us is that Edwin Jackson was really 20  years old even if Baseball Reference calls him 19 for 2003.

Adrian Beltre is clearly the greatest teenager to ever adorn a Los Angeles Dodger uniform. Can Urias in the next two years change that? I can’t wait to find out

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