Thursday, June 05, 2014

Alex Verdugo is the Dodgers 2014 2nd Round Draft Pick

During the 2014 Draft's 2nd Round the Dodger chose Alex Verdugo, 62nd overall, out of Sahuaro High School in Tucson, AZ.  I had originally thought he was going to join the franchise as a left-handed pitcher, but according to Chad Moriyama at Dodgers Insider the Dodgers picked him up as an outfielder.  So Mr. Verdugo, you get 2 cards (since I already made the first before doing any real research).  Check them out above.

As you can see, I put him on a 1959 Topps vintage card design using a photo grabbed from MaxPreps (taken by Chris Hooks) for the cards on the left, and a photo from for the card on the right.

Verdugo is 6' 1" and about 200 lbs.  He bats left-handed is thought to have power potential.  Verdugo is also an able pitcher and is thought by some to be a potential middle of the rotation guy.  He had committed to go to ASU, but apparantly that is now off.  Chris Cotillo at MLB Daily Dish remarked on twitter that he and the Dodgers had made an agreement to sign prior to the draft on twitter.

Then, Ocotillo says that the Dodgers did not specify to him what position they want him at.  So, it remains to be seen if he'll be an outfielder or pitcher.  Nevertheless, the Dodgers announced him as an outfielder, so I'll assume that's the direction he's headed.

Matt Garrioch  at Minor League Ball said this of him:
He is arguably the best two-way player available in this draft along with Michael Gettys. I'm not sure at this point where he should play. Similar to Trey Ball last year, he has high-end tools both on the mound and in the outfield.

His speed is just average, so I don't see him sticking in centerfield long term. His thick legs look more like the legs of a pitcher than an up the middle talent. Once he matures he'll likely be a right fielder so the bat has to be very good, but the bat is that good. He can hit the ball with authority from line to line. He has a strong build but doesn't have a lot of physical projection remaining.

He has a toe tap and a big stride to trigger his aggressive swing. He tones it down in game situations but doesn't lose the aggressive swing. He has great hand eye coordination and can hit the ball hard to all parts of the field and he seems to have a good idea of what to do at all times. He has a fast bat that is short to the ball and long through it allowing him to have good contact ability and project for power as well.
Chris Rodriguez at Baseball Prospectus said this:
Verdugo might have more upside in the outfield, though, with solid tools across the board. The arm is obviously plus, and he pairs that with good outfield defense and above-average speed. During batting practice, he rocketed balls into the gaps and sold out for a little more pull-side power. He was dipping his back shoulder and trying to lift, but he did hit a couple balls off the wall and one that cleared, no easy feat with the wind blowing in hard. In game action, Verdugo showed off natural hitting ability with several balls hit hard in the gaps, including a triple.
Below is a video of him taking some swings.

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Here's another video.

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And another.  This time you can see him get some work in the outfield and throw a few pitches.

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UPDATETucson News Now Sports Anchor Damien Alameda just got off the phone with Verdugo and made the following tweets.

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Grant Holmes is the Dodgers 1st Round Draft Pick

With the Dodgers playing a crappy version of Baseball, tonight's 2014 MLB Amateur Baseball draft couldn't come at a better time.  After all, I would much rather spend my free time dreaming about the future, than fretting over how bad we are today.

Fortunately, there are several names already in the Dodger farm system that keeps me excited and engaged.  We've got slugger Joc Pederson causing some damage in Albuquerque, Corey Seager is tearing it up in Single-A, and Julio Urias makes me hopeful than another ace will arrive soon.

I wonder who, if any of the future Dodgers drafted over the next few days will find themselves on the above list.  All I know is that it'll be fun to watch and learn about their development over the next coming months and years.

With all of that being said, the 1st Round Draft pick for the Dodgers, 22nd overall, of 2014 is South Carolina right-handed pitcher Grant Holmes from Conway High School.  In celebration of Holmes' being chosen by the Dodgers in the 1st round of the draft, I made the below fantasy card for him.  I used a photo grabbed from Grand Strand Sports (photo by Chuck Silvey) in his high school uniform and the 1987 Topps Baseball card design.

Grant is 6' 2" and about 200 lbs.  Reports indicate that he throws a mid-90's fastball and has a good breaking ball.  He has already verbally committed to play college ball at the University of Florida, but we'll see if he can be convinced into turning pro right away.  BTW, he is on twitter, and you can find him here - @GHolmes_14Jim Callis at recently wrote that he was the 3rd best prep arm in the country:
Holmes established himself as a likely first-rounder with a series of strong performances on the showcase circuit last summer, and he has been better than ever this spring. He made scouts sit up and notice when he fired a 100-mph fastball during a preseason scrimmage, and he continued to deliver outstanding velocity throughout his senior season. Holmes repeatedly worked at 91-97 mph, also impressing with his improved ability to locate his fastball on both sides of the plate.

Holmes can devastate hitters with his curveball as well. At its best, it grades as well above average, a low-80s power breaker with good depth. He didn't need it much against high school competition, but the Florida recruit also has made significant strides with his changeup, which can run to either side and shows flashes of becoming a plus pitch.

"The only knock on Holmes is his height, but he's strong, so he does it easy," an area scout said. "We've seen 97-98 mph in the seventh inning. I've seen three plus pitches and the ability to maintain his velocity. I like him a lot. He really competes and he has feel for pitching."
Matt Garrioch at Minor League Ball wrote about Holmes earlier this year:
Holmes has an excellent power curveball as well. It's arguably his best pitch and it is a big league average pitch now with the potential to be a plus-plus pitch. It has tight spin and good depth at 82-85 MPH. The velocity will make many say it's a slider but there is very little horizontal movement to it. It's just a hard downer curveball and he delivers it with exceptional skill.

He even offers a solid change that could be above average. Holmes has a lot of polish and has everything he needs to make it a plus pitch as well. It sits in the mid 80's as well and it comes out of the same angle and similar arm speed as his fastball, allowing it to be projected as above average or even better.
Below are some tweets of him at the draft wearing Dodger Blue.

And, here are some videos of him on the mound.  Here, he pitches the top of the first inning for the East squad at the 2013 Perfect Game All-American Classic.

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Here is a feature on Holmes from WPDE NewsChannel 15.

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UPDATE:  BTW, here is the Dodgers official press release on Grant Holmes:
The Los Angeles Dodgers today selected Conway High School (SC) right-handed pitcher Grant Holmes with their first pick (22nd overall) in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder struck out 82 batters in only 40.0 innings this season, while posting a 4-1 record with a 0.35 ERA on his way to Gatorade's South Carolina Player of the Year honors at Conway High School (SC). At the plate this season, the 18-year-old batted .305 with a .494 on-base percentage.

"We feel fortunate to have gotten a player of Grant's magnitude at pick 22," said Dodger Vice President, Amateur Scouting Logan White. "He's a mature, young and strong-bodied pitcher who throws hard and has a great breaking ball, but what separates him is he is a fierce competitor."
Holmes, whose brother, Colby, signed as a non-drafted free agent with Atlanta last June, was rated as the 16th-best prospect by Baseball America.

The Dodgers have selected a pitcher with their top pick in the draft 11 of the last 12 years, and their next selection in the second round is the 62nd overall.

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2014 Topps Pro Debut - The Dodger Prospect Base Cards

With the 2014 MLB draft starting tonight it's only fitting that Topps would release their Pro Debut minor league Baseball card set this week.  The set features some of the best up-'n-coming prospects the Dodgers have in their system.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if half of the players featured end up on the Major League roster in a few years. 

BTW, there's a surprise omission from this set for the Dodgers.  Joc Pederson is nowhere to be found.  What's up with that?

Below are the Dodger prospect base cards.  I hope to have the insert cards available to show soon.

#30 Corey Seager - Quakes                 #63 Jesmuel Valentin - Quakes

 #171 Zach Lee - Lookouts                   #172 Julio Urias - Loons

#173 Chris Anderson - Loons                  #174 Tom Windle - Loons

#176 Scott Schebler - Quakes             #177 James Baldwin - Loons

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Blog Kiosk: 6/5/2014 - Dodger Links - RIP, Don Zimmer

Some eager youngsters are captured reaching for some Baseballs by Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014.
“I always go out to do my best and to enjoy myself on the field,” Puig said in Spanish. “I don’t do the things I do to bother anyone. If they have been bothered, I apologize again. I’m just trying to enjoy myself and give my best to the fans, who are spending their leisure time coming out to see us.”
"Tommy [Lasorda] says it all the time -- it seems corny at times, but we all have to get on one end of the rope and pull," Mattingly said Wednesday. "Anytime you've heard Tommy say that, it's absolutely true."
But Mattingly did get in one more zinger, a profane one, when he was asked about the Dodgers' 13-19 record at Dodger Stadium.

"Well, home, away, whatever, I don’t know that that’s got anything to do with it," Mattingly said. "It’s just being basically s----. We’re just not that good." 
I am increasingly concerned by this.  In one sense, we clearly have the talent, but in another sense Mattingly is right.  Maybe, we just aren't that good and it's time to make some moves to the roster, or maybe it's an issue of motivational leadership at the top.  Maybe,we need to make the kind of change that tells the players to get their rear end in gear.  Maybe, we get rid of some players and change the coach.  It just seems more clear to me that a culture change is needed, and it might be best to cut off the heads of this two-headed dragon.

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