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2019 Will Be the Year Alex Verdugo Breaks Out

Alex Verdugo
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 25: Alex Verdugo #61 of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty images)

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.

 

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?

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

14 Comments

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  1. Verdugo is a very promising player. The Dodgers needed to make space for him or trade him. As this team philosophy is to build and utilize the Farm Team that they spend as much money on as any team in the MLB it makes perfect sense that is what they have done.
    Puig was as we are learning a constant distraction on the Team.
    Verdugo will I believe show his talent and why he will win the job in the Outfield.

  2. My question as the article by Brook Smith has stated, will the Dodgers brain-trust give Verdugo an opportunity? Otherwise, trade him and get someone in return such as Kluber or Bauer.

    • I agree with you but as it has been reported that the Indians want the same type of package for Kluber and possibly Bauer that they received for Sell that trade is not going to happen.

      Plus I do not understand the fans thinking first that they would trade for Realmuto as the asking price was insane and the overriding factor that it is a strength in the farm system.

      The same for Rotational Pitching as the Dodgers have enough starters for two teams and some incredible young arms poised for the Majors in Urias, Santana, May, Gonsolin and others….It makes no business sense to trade away young players for positions of strength.

      One reason I liked the Puig,Kemp trade was they freed up a potential spot for Verdugo but they brought in a highly rated infield prospect in Jeter Downs where the Doggers need players.

      • Tom Maxey. I know these teams such as the Indians and Marlings want the world for their respective players. I guess I understand when a team such as the Padres sign Machado, all it cost was money, so the talking-heads on espn or mlb network say.

  3. Robin yes I do understand the allure of getting a player such as Machado for “just money” but he does not really fit the Dodger need as I believe Seager may become a more impactful player. Plus the Dodgers have Lux in the pipeline and are very high on him. And there is a MLB Team Cap.

    I do not see the Dodgers signing a player for the insane contract lengths that Machado and Harper are asking. I think the Padres reached for Machado and I wonder how that will turn out. The Padre field is huge and his HR count will certainly drop. The field size and the pressure of his incredible contract will be a distraction. I am curious how he will react. He did not do respond well when under pressure from the media and fans of the Dodgers.

    • When the Dodgers acquired Machado last year, my cousin also a Dodgers fan asked me what I thought. I told my cousin, 50-50 because of the cost of the prospects. They got Machado because of Seager’s injury and personally I thought the team could get by with the platoon of Taylor/Kike at SS. But with the team falling behind in the West and the regression of Taylor – not hitting hrs compared to 2017 and striking-out more, the FO felt it necessary to get Machado. Let me ask you this. When Seager, Bellinger, Buehler, Urias, etc. become free agents what happens? Will the Dodgers sign them to “insane contract lengths?

      • The Dodgers are prepared to pay their existing players well. See contracts for Turner, Jansen and Kershaw. Part of the problem this yesr has been the agents egos. I believe the league will readily compete to sign a player for a 4-6 year guaranteed contract. After that I think it is financially unsound.

        The market will tell us.

  4. verdugo might have a lot of talent but can’t be used in the musical chair system because of lack of playing time….you have at least 5 or more players wanting the same chance and will they stay with the dodgers under those playing conditions…….they could be starters on other teams or are they downplayed to try to keep them

    • Old, I agree with you wholeheartedly!!!!!! Verdugo needs to play consistently and prove himself- or else!!!! Even the article that accompanies this article was stating that Joc will be platooned. Until the manager gets away from the Sabremetrics and goes to a set lineup as much as possible, it will be difficult to evaluate talent. Go Blue!!!!

      • BLUE LOU! Even though he may have shown he can handle LHP in the minors DOES NOT mean it will happen up here and honestly I am not too happy about the still over abundance of LH hitters on this team. I would rather see another RHB in Verdugo’s place to be honest but It’s not my call.

  5. I just hope that Machado will avoid stepping on our first baseman on his way to being tagged out.

  6. They must give Verdugo every chance and find out for sure what he can do. I would really like to see more power from him. Has anyone heard about Toles?

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