Friday, September 01, 2017

Welcome to the Blue, Alex Verdugo!

The time has come for the Dodgers next big prospect to play for Los Angeles. As you surely know, outfielder Alex Verdugo is expected to be called up today as a part of the leagues September roster expansion. He is currently ranked as the teams #2 prospect and 28th overall prospect in the league, per
Verdugo was a high school left-hander with a fastball that reached 94 mph and an intriguing slider, but he wanted to play every day and the Dodgers allowed him to do so after signing him for $914,600 as a second-round pick in 2014. He has done nothing to make them regret that decision, winning organization Minor League player of the year honors in his first full pro season and making the jump to Double-A at age 19 to begin 2016.
An extremely advanced hitter for his age, Verdugo excels at recognizing pitches, managing the strike zone and squaring up the ball. He exhibits plenty of bat speed from the left side of the plate and an affinity for using the opposite field. The only concerns with him offensively are whether his line-drive approach will limit him to fringy-to-average power and whether he makes contact so easily that it will cut into his walks. 
Though Verdugo has just average speed, he has spent most of his pro career in center field. His instincts help him make plays, but a lot of evaluators believe his range will be better suited for right field in the long run. His well above-average arm definitely will play there and allowed him to record 37 assists in his first two full pro seasons.

The 21-year old Verdugo is currently slashing .314/.389/.436/.825 in Triple-A Oklahoma City, with six home runs, 62 RBI's and 67 runs scored. He's also stolen nine bases and has been caught three times. Baseball America also puts him as #2. Per Vince Lara-Cinisomo at Baseball America:
Verdugo shows an advanced feel to hit, although his line-drive stroke is not geared for power. He has the bulk and bat speed necessary to hit 15-20 homers, but his swing lacks the requisite leverage to consistently lift the ball out of the park. Scouts believe, however, with his raw power he should have at least average playable power in games eventually. His setup in the batter’s box is fairly quiet and he stays within the ball well, content to use an inside-out stroke to shoot the ball to left field when necessary.
BTW, his promotion isn't going to only be a 'cup o' coffee.' Instead, he is expected to contribute. Per Ken Gurnick at
"We're going to play him," Roberts said of Verdugo. "We have a lot of outfield options. But I do want to see Alex take at-bats and get out there."
Although he is not expected to make the playoff roster come October, the Dodgers obviously want to make him feel comfortable enough in the Majors to compete for a job next season. This also makes me wonder if Joc Pederson's time in Los Angeles will fall; especially given his diminishing skills at the plate. He continues to struggle in Triple-A, and is not expected to be back in Los Angeles until Oklahoma City's season is over.

In celebration of Alex's advancement to the 'Big Club" I made three different fantasy Baseball cards of him. Check them out above.

UPDATE: Per a Dodgers press release:
Verdugo, 21, is set to make his Major League debut for the Dodgers after completing the season for the OKC Dodgers hitting .314 with six homers, four triples, 27 doubles and 62 RBI in 117 games. The Tucson, Arizona native posted a .389 on-base percentage this season while walking more times than he struck out (52, 50) and was named a Pacific Coast League Midseason All-Star and participated in the MLB All-Star Futures Game. In 421 career minor league games over four seasons, Verdugo has a .305 average and an on-base percentage of .362. The 21-year-old has been a postseason all-star for three consecutive seasons (14-16) prior to 2017 and was a mid-season all-star this year and last year. Verdugo was originally selected by the Dodgers in the second round (62nd overall) of the 2014 First-Year Player draft. 

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