Quakes' Urias thriving on, off the field

Dodgers' 17-year-old lefty fans six, shoots up prospect rankings

Julio Urias has allowed an unearned run on two hits over eight innings in his last three starts. (Fernando Gutierrez Jr./MiLB.com)

By Mark Emery / MiLB.com | July 28, 2014 12:47 AM ET

Sunday was a good day for Julio Urias.

On the field, the 17-year-old left-hander tied a season high with six strikeouts in Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga's 6-3 win over High Desert. Off the field, he shot up MLB.com's revised prospect rankings, which list him as No. 2 in the Dodgers system and No. 18 overall.

Urias gave up an unearned run on two hits and two walks over four innings as the Quakes halted a three-game losing streak. He lowered his ERA to 3.03 following his third straight appearance without yielding an earned run.

"He's got a feel that you just don't see in a young ballplayer, especially in a kid that should be a junior or senior in high school," Rancho Cucamonga pitching coach Matt Herges said earlier this month.

Sunday's game began with High Desert's Zach Shank reaching on an error by left fielder Robbie Garvey and Tyler Smith lining a single up the middle, but Urias struck out Jabari Henry and got Mariners No. 6 prospect Gabby Guerrero to bounce into an inning-ending double play.

The Mexico native fanned Burt Reynolds and Travis Witherspoon as part of a perfect second inning, but things got dicey in the third. Lonnie Kauppila drew a leadoff walk, then Toby DeMello went down looking. Shank reached on another error, this one by third baseman Steven Proscia, and Smith got aboard on an infield single to load the bases.

Henry grounded out to third, scoring Kauppila with an unearned run, but Urias struck out Guerrero to end the inning.

In the fourth, the teenager issued another leadoff walk to Reynolds but picked him off first. Tim Lopes was called out on strikes and Witherspoon flied to right field, ending Urias' night.

"Julio throws as fast as he needs to," Herges said. "He has a different gear, and he can reach back and hit 96 [mph] and it's not that big of a deal to him. It's a smooth throw."

After signing with the Dodgers in August 2012, Urias went 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA in 18 starts at Class A Great Lakes. Then, as now, the organization carefully rationed the youngster's innings. He threw more than four innings in a game four times last year and only twice for the Quakes.

Over 59 1/3 innings in the California League, he's struck out 67 batters and walked 28 while holding opponents to a .211 batting average and compiling a 1.23 WHIP.

"We want to keep him healthy while he's still developing," Herges said. "The tough part is not rushing him along. You saw what happened to Doc Gooden -- he made it to the big leagues at 19 and dominated. I'm not saying that's what's going to happen with Julio, but that's going to be tough to resist."

Fabio Martinez (5-5) followed Urias and pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one hit while walking one and punching out two.

High Desert reliever Blake Hauser (2-2) gave up one run and one hit in his only frame, the sixth, striking out two.

Mark Emery is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Emery. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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