This article will continue the Dodgers Nation player reviews with Alex Verdugo. Alex throws and bats left handed. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft, he moved up relatively quickly. He received his first call up to the Dodgers on September 1, 2017 and had 23 at bats.
The scouting report on Verdugo from MLB Pipeline:
One of the best pure hitting prospects in baseball, Verdugo recognizes pitches and controls the strike zone better than most players his age. He uses the whole field, repeatedly barreling balls with a quick left-handed stroke geared for line drives. Though he homered just seven times in 132 games last season, his hitting ability, bat speed and strength should translate into average power if he adds some loft to his swing.
As good as he is in the batter’s box, Verdugo’s best tool actually is his plus-plus arm. Despite average speed, he has spent much of his pro career in center field, where his instincts help him get the job done. Scouts are split on whether he can handle center on a daily basis in the Majors, but no one doubts that his arm would play in right.
Verdugo was 22 years old as Spring Training started. Entering into Spring Training, the Dodgers had plenty of returning outfielders and it looked like another season in AAA. In Spring Training he made a case for a roster spot as he hit .324 in 34 at bats with 4 doubles and 2 home runs. However, the re-emergence of Matt Kemp along with the Dodgers keeping Joc Pederson left no room for Verdugo. He was sent to the OKC Dodgers on March 21st.
First Stint in OKC
Despite the disappointment of being sent back down, after an excellent spring training, Verdugo got off to a solid start. Most of his numbers were solid through the first 19 games. He slashed .276/.309/.474 (average/on base/slugging). The reason for the low on base percentage was the fact he only had 4 walks. He also had 15 strike outs which was uncharacteristic of him. The numbers were strong enough and Andrew Toles was hurt so he was first in line for a call up if an outfielder got hurt.
First Call Up
On April 28ththe Dodgers put Yasiel Puig on the disabled list and recalled Alex Verdugo. In 8 starts after his call up, he had 3 multi-hit games. There were some glimpses of what he can do at the plate and it looked like he belonged. He was able to play all the outfield positions and was able to show off his arm a little bit. However, when Puig was healthy they sent Verdugo back to OKC on May 8th.
Back to OKC
When Verdugo got back to OKC he showed a steady climb in his offensive numbers. He then got very hot as he entered the AAA all-star break with a slash line of .350/.393/.513. This earned him selection to the AAA all-star game. By the time of his next call up on July 23rd, he was slashing .349/.396/.506. Clearly, there wasn’t much more he could do in AAA.
Short Second Stint With Dodgers
With Justin Turner going on the disabled list, Verdugo was recalled from OKC on July 23rd. It turns out it was only for 5 games but he continued his hot hitting ways. In the 5 games he played he had 19 plate appearances and slashed .313/.421/.563. He walked 3 times and only struck out once. For his efforts he was sent back to AAA when Yasiel Puig came off the disabled list.
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Back to OKC, Again
If he was disappointed about being sent down again, he did not show it on the field. He continued his hot hitting for most of the season, with a drop in extra base hits over the last two weeks of the season (only one extra base hit). Verdugo ended the season with a slash line of .329/.391/.472. In 343 at bats he struck out 47 times and walked only 34 times.
September Call Up
When the roster expanded to 40 players, Verdugo was in the first group of players to be recalled. He didn’t play that much and was used in an inconsistent manner. It looked like the Dodgers had their rotation of players and only an injury would change that. After such a strong season it ended on a whimper with only 27 at bats in the last month. He was not included on the playoff roster so his season was finished.
His age 22 season was filled with many highlights. He clearly proved he has nothing left to prove in AAA and showed, in some spurts, that he’s ready for the Major Leagues. Some numbers below, in different situations, has some standout information, especially hitting against lefties (he bats from the left side).
|vs left handers||.396||.442||.542|
|Behind in Count||.284||.291||.413|
|Runners in Scoring Position||.293||.372||.354|
Statistics courtesy of MiLB.
In my opinion, and I shared this earlier last month, Alex Verdugo is ready to be a Major League baseball player. As shown above, he can hit left-handers, so he doesn’t need to be platooned. He is the Dodgers’ number 1 prospect and the 32nd overall top prospect in baseball. I believe he can eventually put up Christian Yelich numbers as the power will come. 2019 will be his year 23 season and it is time to play him full-time (no platoons) or trade him. I’d prefer to move other outfielders to make room for Verdugo. He will be a good one.
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