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17-year-old Julio Urias starts spring training game for Dodgers

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

In a last hour switcheroo, the Los Angeles Dodgers decided to start 17-year-old phenom Julio Urias during Game 1 of their split squad doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.

Urias handled one inning of work against the San Diego Padres and was absolutely flawless, striking out two on only 14 pitches. He started off the inning with a strikeout of six-year pro and left-handed hitting Will Venable despite falling behind in the count 3-0.

How's that for poise under pressure?

After getting Chris Denorfia on a grounder to third, Urias struck out another left-hander swinger with major league experience in Yonder Alonso.

All three players will be on the Padres opening day roster, so it's not like the Dodgers threw him into a cupcake matchup. And based on the information coming from Camelback Ranch, he's already an extremely tough at-bat for left-handed hitters. Now just imagine how much better he'll be with experience and a little bit of seasoning.

It's a scary thought if you're not a Dodgers fan.

That's also scary. He's only 17!

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As for a little background on Urias, the left-hander was signed out of Mexico in 2012 at age 15 and is already regarded as the the Dodgers top pitching prospect. In fact, Baseball Prospectus has him as LA's top prospect overall, while Baseball America tabbed him as the No. 51 prospect overall in their Top 100 list for 2014.

He's the youngest player on any and all of those lists, but he certainly earned his ranking, posting a 2.48 ERA in 54 1/3 innings in the Midwest League as a 16-year-old last year.

Special talent. Urias is clearly the future of the Dodgers and the future of baseball in general. It was cool catching just a glimpse of that future on Saturday.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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