Dodgers Prospect Watch: The Time Could Be Now for Alex Verdugo

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(Photo Credit: Jeremey Davis)

I thought it was a bit ironic when the Dodgers released their 2018 NLDS roster back in October and the third-best outfielder in the organization was nowhere to be found. Obviously, we all knew it was going to happen, but it’s still a shame to see so much talent being wasted in the hopper at Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Seemingly, Alex Verdugo has been lurking in the Los Angeles Top 5 prospects list for a handful of years now. In the most recent rankings by MLB Pipeline, the Tucson native is ranked first in the organization, undoubtedly being admired by every rival GM across baseball. In the majority of the biggest outlets, he’s ranked in the Top 40 prospects in the entire league.

At just 22 years of age, it’s hard to believe he’s been in the system for five full years. Some scouts across the majors believe Verdugo could be the best pure hitting prospect in the game, as he has an uncanny ability to recognize pitches and control the strike zone. Many folks on the Los Angeles farm feel that he may have the quickest bat in the whole organization. His innate ability to drive the ball to all fields is increasingly becoming a rarity among modern players and could be a valuable weapon on a Dodgers club which depends on the long ball to generate runs instead of situational hitting and small ball.

Verdugo hit an impressive .329/.391/.472 with 10 homers over 343 AB last year at Triple-A to lead OKC in hitting. Although he’s primarily a center fielder, he can capably handle all three outfield spots. Despite Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger being very capable center fielders, many pundits view Verdugo as the Dodgers’ center fielder of the future. But while he doesn’t even compare any one of those guys in the power department, Verdugo almost never strikes out, and has become known as an on-base machine. Unlike the aforementioned trio, he knows how to shorten up his swing while hitting to all fields. He’s capable of stealing bases in the double-digits, and despite his lack of long balls, Verdugo has the strength to muscle a ball to the deep part of the yard. In addition to all his other minor league accolades, he was tabbed as having the best outfield arm in the PCL by Baseball America for the 2017 season.

Of course, Verdugo hasn’t quite put up elite numbers during his short stints in the majors. In 2018, he hit .260/.329/.377 when he was on the big league roster, which is definitely serviceable by many standards, yet because of his lack of power, his .705 OPS and 93 OPS+ rank several ticks below the MLB norm. Still, scouts believe that things may begin to click for the left-handed hitter once he’s able to settle down with regular playing time.

Some fans wonder why Verdugo hasn’t been included in a trade package for perhaps say an elite bullpen arm or starting pitcher, but the truth is that the brain trust of the organization conceivably envision him as a potential star in the bigs, based on the fact that they have made him virtually untouchable during trade talks at the last few summer tdeadlines.

As it stands now, the 2019 roster, especially the prospective outfield crew, is entirely up in the air. Some players will return and some may not—but that’s a whole different subject we’ll address later in the winter. In the meantime, the Dodgers are still labelled as having “an incredible amount of depth with a ton of mediocre talent,” but Verdugo certainly has the opportunity to disprove that assumption, especially if he’s given the opportunity to play regularly heading into the 2019 campaign.

30 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: The Time Could Be Now for Alex Verdugo

  1. i like to think of it as below average talent but if you are talking about the outfield i guess mediocre talent is pretty accurate. i never want to get to excited about “prospects” but with all the outfield problems im not quite sure why they never gave him a good shot last season. he seems to be able to get on base and keep the ball in play. probably his age but he has played over his age his whole career

  2. After watching the all or nothing approach that many of the players have, verdugo skill set, that you described would, be a welcome blend. It was obvious during the post season, we could use a couple of high on base percentage guys, sometimes we just needed a base hit versus the strike out / home run approach.

    1. Probably not. But if you look at what launch angles did for Chris Taylor and Muncy, it probably saved their careers. Taylor was swinging for the fences in every conceivable situation, it seemed. The only guys who were even capable of situational hitting were Turner and Utley.

      1. Launch angle for Barnes would likely mean more warning track fly balls. He’s only got 574 career plate appearances and with those he’s slashed .240/.364/.372. He’s a positive dWAR player that will get on base at a respectable clip. He’ll have a decent career but I don’t expect .895 OPS out of him again.

        Early projections for Ryu – 96 IP. 3.66 ERA. 6 wins. $17.9 million? Early projections for Grandal – .796 OPS, 17 passed balls and 24 “where the ef did the ball go?’s”.

        Verdugo? I doubt it. We still have 6 outfielders in front of him. Trade him to Miami for Realmuto.

      2. Kemp, Puig, Bellinger, Taylor, Pederson, Hernandez? After next year Kemp and probably Puig are gone. Joc will probably never be more than he was this year. Kike is not an every day outfielder if he can’t hit on a more consistent basis. You and I both do our fair share of complaining about the homer or nothing approach. Verdugo is the exact opposite of that. I say give him a chance to see what he can do. If he produces, we have him locked up for a long time. If not……………………………….you can always come back at me and tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. Of course, you’ll have to stand at the end of a very long line to do that.

  3. I’m not saying I don’t like Verdugo. I do like him. I’m just saying the Dodgers have a stack of outfielders they must like better because they are all still here and every one of them remains ahead of Verdugo on the depth chart. If Verdugo adds a launch angle element to his alverdugorithms (see what I did there) he’s got a shot at cracking the top 5 Dodgers outfielder list. If he remains a .750 OPS guy, he might as well be traded.

    The Dodgers may make a splash this off season- right? I mean they purposely puckered payroll for a reason so they must have a big deal planned… is a World Class outfielder part of the plan? If so, Verdugo goes to 8th on the depth chart…. unless a few of the overswinging K Pack Brothers that make up our outfield are on their way out the door.

    An outfield of Harper, Taylor and Puig sounds like something FAZ might cobble together. Stanton, Bellinger and Puig works for me. So does Verdugo in center… but honestly I see no FAZ 2019 outfield with Verdugo in it. I think Verdugo and Bellinger are the organization’s best defensive outfielders and it wouldn’t surprise me if neither are out there next year. The fastest player on your team at first base is waste in my opinion.

    I have no idea what the plan is but I’m pretty sure whatever I think should happen won’t.

  4. Scoop you realize that Puig, Taylor, Kiki, Bellinger and Joc all had a OPS of under 850 . I think I would take a chance on a 22 year old with a OPS of 750 than this bunch of average at best, platoon players.

      1. OK Dennis. If you want to really see how knowledgeable your readership is, ask how many people know who Jerry Sands is. I think that you, my son and I are the only three other than possibly a few members of his family and I happen to know that his Uncle Bert and Aunt Sadie have no idea that he’s even their nephew.

      2. You and my son, who ultimately convinced me that Sands was the next coming of (insert the name of your favorite prospect ever). He might be a future Hall of Famer today if someone had only worked on his launch angle early in his career. 🙂

      3. Xavier Paul wasn’t far behind in my book. I actually talked to his brother Matt on occasion, plus I knew a guy who played with him in high school down in LA. Kid could do it all in the minors, but he just couldn’t handle a big league slider.

      4. So are you really high on anyone in particular these days? Just thought we’d better warn them that their career is in jeopardy.

      5. I really like Dennis Santana, not just because he has natural throwing talent, but also because he’s mature and one of the hardest workers on the farm. I’m also pulling for Marshall Kasowski, only because of his Cinderella story after his accident. I’m also a big fan of Will Smith, DJ Peters, Mitchell White and Cristian Santana.

      6. Timmy Locastro and Shea Spitzbarth are on my sentimental list of favorites because they always keep in touch and will grant me an interview at the drop of a dime.

    1. So, who in that group gets the boot?

      Verdugo should be a starter somewhere. That could have happened for him this year, and most definitely should happen next year.

  5. Time for Verdugo to get his shot at CF. No way Dodgers give that kind of money and years to Harper or Machado. Those will end up as horrible contracts! See LA Angels! Give Belly first base and Muncy needs to slim down and play 2nd base. Puig, Kemp and Pederson won’t be here past next year! Need young contracts for future payday’s for Seager and Belly

    1. That’s right Keith. Also OPSibilty. You can nit .100 but if you play multiple positions and OPS .767 you can work for Friedman.

      1. Reds have just hired Turner Ward as their hitting coach. Maybe Friedman isn’t as rigid about the approach to hitting as you think he is. They certainly could have matched whatever the Reds offered him if they really wanted to keep him.

      2. I wasn’t aware Ward was available.

        The Dodgers led the NL in runs scored and were way out in front in RDIFF. As much as I disagreed with the all or nothing approach, it apparently worked well enough to push a few runs across the plate.

        Cincinnati huh? Well, he’s a southerner, born in Florida, raised in Alabama. Maybe Tinsel Town wasn’t his cup of moonshine. Perhaps blue wasn’t in his color wheel. He’s from Alabama. Red likely suits him better.

      3. Probably the first part of a trade of Puig and others to the Reds for Iglesias. You aren’t the only one with a fertile rumor mind. I can match you step for step.

      4. I like it Jeff.

        I want Gennett too. Muncy had a better offensive year than Scooter. They are the same age and both had 4.2 WAR. Muncy and Puig for Gennett and Iglesias. That’s a good deal for the Reds.

        Fertilize that Jefe.

  6. I love your deal scoop, me and Jeff have been trying to trade for Iglesias for two seasons now, we had multiple good deals, but Andrew just wouldn’t pull the trigger. I thought Jeff had his ear, maybe Andrew will listen to you. With his sidekick, Farhan, possibly going north, Andrew will need some guidance, I think you could fit the bill perfectly. In the other thread you said you might be a lot of things, maybe your a retired GM waiting to get back in the game? Now go get me Iglesias, and Gennet.

    1. I heard the Dodgers are pursuing DJ LaMahieu, but I’m not sure who’s doing the pursuing, since Farhan is on the clock in the Bay. Maybe Friedman pulled Ned out of retirement for a few days.

  7. It’s official Farhan is gone, the job is yours for the taking scoop, go make us at tbpc proud.
    I would be okay with LaMahieu it shows the front office is open minded about batters with a different approach, and it fills the need for somebody that’s just happy with a single to get on base, it would also give us a real lead off hitter. The team likes to use that position for their platooning, I don’t see LaMahieu as a platoon guy, so that is a little odd, maybe a slight adjustment in team approach?

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