Alex Verdugo has long been one of the most highly touted prospects in all of baseball. Unfortunately, his path to the major leagues has been blocked for quite some time. From the moment the Dodgers drafted him out of Sahuaro High School in 2014, his future with the team was uncertain. Everyone knew he was going to be good, but no one knew when he would get the chance.
That has certainly been the case over the past two years. Verdugo has played in just 52 games over two seasons, mostly as a fill-in. The only real chances he got were during the roster expansion in September and when injuries popped up. Verdugo has accumulated a .240/.309/.360 slash line with two home runs in a very limited 100 major league at-bats. His minor league journey has been an entirely different story though.
Verdugo showed up to rookie ball after being drafted and tore the league to pieces. He hit an absurd .353 in his first professional season to go along with three home runs across 54 games. Since then, it’s been much of the same. Over his past two seasons at Triple-A Oklahoma City, Verdugo has hit a combined to hit .321 with 16 homeruns across a total of 208 games.
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The biggest question around him though is whether or not he can take advantage of his position in 2019. The Dodgers traded away Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig in the offseason, giving Verdugo a chance to earn a starting job. Verdugo’s splits at the minor league level tell us that he does not have any issue facing left-handed pitching. Imagine not having to platoon one of your outfielders throughout the course of the year, that would certainly be a change of pace.
Toles would have been competing for an extra outfield spot. Major League outfielders on the roster are A.J. Pollock, Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo, plus utilitymen Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) February 18, 2019
At this point, it would appear Verdugo’s biggest battle for at-bats would come down to Hernandez and Taylor. Both of these guys figure to mix into the second base competition as well though, so his chances are good. Joc will no doubt continue to be a platoon outfielder, playing only on days when a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. Pollock has center field locked down as long as he can stay healthy. And Cody Bellinger looks like he will be getting plenty of time in the outfield as well.
Simply put, it’s time for Alex Verdugo to show the Dodgers what he is capable of. There has not been room for him in the past, but that excuse is no longer valid. The trade talks surrounding him have disappeared, so he can focus on the future in Los Angeles for the moment. I would expect big things from the guy that is a career .309 hitter in the minor leagues. Not to mention, scouts rate him as a plus-plus arm in the outfield. Can you imagine that cannon patrolling right field on a daily basis?
[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/manny-bye-felicia-machado-rip-newk-baseball-stoppage-and-puig-your-lazy-friend-episode-42-blue-heaven-podcast/2019/02/20/” type=”big” color=”red”] MANNY “BYE FELICIA” MACHADO, RIP NEWK, BASEBALL STOPPAGE, AND PUIG YOUR LAZY FRIEND | EPISODE 42 | BLUE HEAVEN PODCAST[/button]