What Happened In 2017: Got a taste of the majors with a 15-game September call-up.
After hitting .314/.389/.436/825 with 27 doubles, six home runs, 50 strikeouts, 52 walks and nine stolen bases in 117 games for Triple-A Oklahoma City, Alex Verdugo made his major league debut with the Dodgers on September 1. His call-up was partially spurred by Joc Pederson‘s second half struggles and demotion to Triple-A, plus the fruitless acquisition of Curtis Granderson.
The Dodgers’ 2nd-round pick in 2014 out of Sahuaro High School in Tucson, Verdugo was once Arizona Rookie League roommates with Rookie Of The Year Cody Bellinger. Dustin ranked him at No. 3 in the Dodgers’ organization in 2017, and he’s been one of the top prospects in the minors since he began playing professionally.
But Verdugo didn’t exactly wow everyone right out of the gate like his former teammate Bellinger did for the Dodgers earlier in the year. The youngest player on the active roster at 21 years old, Verdugo went 4-for-23 with a home run, four strikeouts and two walks in 25 plate appearances over 15 games in late September. Of course that was a small sample size during what was a cup of coffee with the team after rosters expanded.
On September 10, Verdugo hit his first major league home run, a shot against Colorado Rockies pitcher Adam Ottavino.
Power isn’t Verdugo’s forte, as he hit just six home runs in 117 games for the year in AAA. However, his excellent throwing arm and plus defense with improvement in plate discipline has him positively trending toward a successful MLB career. He lowered his walk rate (10.5%) and strikeout rate (10.1%) in Triple-A from 8.3% and 12.7% in Double-A. He also had a 41-game streak of reaching base with either a hit, walk, or hit by pitch from June 4 to July 26, the second-longest streak in the minors in 2017.
Alex did pull a bit of a Yasiel Puig during his time with the Dodgers in September when he was late arriving to the ballpark before the team opened a three-game series with the Washington Nationals. Verdugo is one of the most talented prospects in the Dodgers’ system and in baseball, but he’s also earned a reputation as far as having a bit of an attitude and a lackadaisical work ethic.
2018 Status: Verdugo could be a valuable trade chip this offseason. If he isn’t moved, he’ll compete for a center field job.