Every Friday we will be doing a profile and analysis of a farmhand for the Dodgers. We will look at their background, the future projections scouts generally have on them, associated risk with them booming or busting, and then our personal take on what they will most likely become as a ball player. We will do one a week up until pitchers and catchers report, and will be counting down our top ten prospects (more or less who we see to be our top ten).
Today we are covering our #2 prospect Alex Verdugo.
- Name: Alex Verdugo
- DOB/Age: May 15, 1996 / 21 Years Old
- Height/Weight: 6’0″ / 205lbs
- Home State/Country: Arizona
- Highest Level Reached: MLB
- On the 40-Man Roster: Yes
- ETA: Now
Other Notable Rankings
- Baseball America: #2
- Baseball Prospectus: #2
- MLB.com: #2*
- TrueBlueLA: #2
- Dodgers Digest: #2 (mid 2017-season)
*MLB.com has released their pre-2018 season top 100 prospects list, but not a new list for the Dodgers top 30.
(1-10, with 1 being very low, and 10 being very high)
3 – Alex Verdugo may not be the flashiest prospect, but the kid can hit. He isn’t likely to belt 30+ homers in his prime, but he could easily contend for batting titles while providing solid outfield defense. Part of what makes Verdugo highly rated across the board is how advanced his hitting eye is at such a young age. He has quickly moved through the Dodgers’ system, all while hitting exceptionally. Alex Verdugo has a very high ceiling, which makes him a solid prospect. At a minimum we could expect around a .270 average, low double-digit home run totals, with solid defense, and a cannon arm. That would play well on many teams in the corner outfield positions.
The first thing you need to know about Alex Verdugo is that he actually wasn’t initially viewed as an outfielder when scouted as a high schooler in Arizona. As a senior, he was catching the eye of scout’s by hitting 94 MPH with his fastball. Despite this, the Dodgers still liked what they saw in him enough to draft him in the 2nd round as an outfielder in 2014. Since then he has consistently shown a keen eye and exceptional contact skills. Instantly he impressed by slashing .353/.421/.511 in 2014.
He continued his upward trajectory in 2015 by hitting .311/.340/.441. His great arm in the outfield, solid defense, and excellent hitter’s eye all contributed to him winning Minor League Player of the Year honors for the Dodgers that season. 2016 brought more success for Verdugo, where he spent the whole season at AA. Once there he again slashed a solid .274/.336/.407. What was more impressive was that he struck out only 67 times in 126 games, while walking 44 times. That, and he was almost a full four years younger than his competition at AA.
Transition to 2017 and Verdugo had firmly staked his claim as a top 10 prospect in the organization and top 100 prospect overall. Last season was an even more impressive one for the young outfielder. At AAA Oklahoma City he hit an excellent .314/.389/.436 while walking (52 times) more than he struck out (50)! Indeed he has cemented himself as one of the better batter eye’s not just in our system, but in all the Minor Leagues. Though he didn’t show much power initially, he still ended the season with 37 extra base hits.
Going forward many scouts would love to see him with a little more power. But with Verdugo’s current approach you can’t complain at all. He uses all fields, and hits a lot of line drives. Eventually he may translate some of that average raw power into actual game power, but for now he is content to hit line drives to all fields and put up well above-average batting totals.
Since Alex Verdugo is now on the 40 man roster, and made a short cameo in September, there are higher expectations for him this year. He has little left to prove in the Minors, but his issue is a lack of a spot to play. Granted prospects over the last two to three years have found a way to force themselves into the picture (i.e. Seager and Bellinger) but Verdugo’s situation is a bit different. While both Seager and Bellinger made quick jumps, they were both realistically #2 or #3 on the organization depth chart at their positions. Verdugo falls somewhere around #4-5 on the depth chart. He has in front of him at least Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, and Kike Hernandez for playing time in left-field.
If Verdugo is to play everyday for the Dodgers this year, he would have to significantly outperform all three of the above mentioned players to lock in left-field. On the flip-side since he isn’t as necessary to the future of the club as say Seager and Bellinger are, he may end up becoming a trade chip. Verdugo was long-rumored to be a top trade target for opposing clubs last season, and ultimately he remained with the Dodgers.
Whatever Verdugo’s future holds, it should be a nice bright one.
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