The Next Tony Gwynn? Could be…

Some fans assume that Alex Verdugo was called up for the purpose of player development, so that he could get a taste of the big leagues and help his advancement for next year.  That seems logical, but it is also a huge mistake to think that is the only reason.  It very well could be that Alex Verdugo could be a missing piece to the World Series Puzzle.  Alex Verdugo’s ceiling is Tony Gwynn.  Mind you, I am not saying he will be as good as Tony Gwynn… but he could!

Tony Gwynn was a hitting machine.  He didn’t walk much and he didn’t strike out much, but he almost always walked more than he struck out… which is exactly what Alex Verdugo does. Tony Gwynn for his career averaged  a .338 BA with a .388 OB% and 9 HR, 76 RBI to go with 52 BB and 29 strikeouts a season. Oh, and he “averaged” 209 hits a season.

I am not saying that Alex Verdugo can do all that… but it is possible.  There is a reason why FAZ did not trade Alex when everyone was asking for him and Walker Buehler:  Alex Verdugo might be Tony Gwynn!  In the interest of full disclosure, I believed with every fiber of my being that Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger would be superstars.  I am not convinced (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that Alex Verdugo will be one.

OK, here it is:  I question his character… but he is young and I could be wrong, and if I am, he’s a star!  If Alex “wants it” as bad as Cody and Corey and if he works as hard as they do, then he will be Tony Gwynn.  Tonight, we start to find out if he is.  He can play CF, but so can Cody Bellinger and he’s not a centerfielder.  Alex will be a corner outfielder because he has below average speed, but he has a cannon mounted on his shoulder… it might be better than Puig’s!

Alex Verdugo is a player who could leadoff for the Dodgers for the next 15 years.  He could be a big part of the teams’ success down the stretch and in the playoffs.  He is an OB machine.  He’s a stone-cold hitter.  I am anxious to see what he does tonight. This kid could be special… very special! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

UPDATE:  We are having trouble with the site – we are working on it and hope to have it resolved soon.

Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don't do game recaps or such things -- lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don't think they are the "end-all-be-all.". This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We'd like to hear your voice.

This article has 34 Comments

    1. I still can. 😉

      I have been known to do such stuff! But, I only ban people who make it their misssion in life to be a pain in my rear!

      Sorry for the inconvenience.

  1. Though Alex maintained a very good OBP in the second half, he batted but .244. We’ll have to wait and see if this means somebody discovered a way to get him out.

  2. Nice to be back. Great game last night. Kershaw back to pitching a great game. The bull pen took it from there. Watson had a great inning. The relievers are using all of their pitches. When Morrow throws a fastball at 99 and then throws a slider in the 80’s on the outside corner at the knees, the batters are in for a long night. Kenley was his usual self. JT looks like he is coming out of his slump. The outfielders never made one out last night.


    – The Los Angeles Dodgers today recalled right-handed pitcher Brock Stewart and selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Wilmer Font (#62) from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

    Stewart, 25, will make his 11th appearance of the season and fourth start in the first game of the doubleheader today in San Diego. Stewart has posted a 3.38 ERA (9 ER/24.0 IP) with one save for Los Angeles this year, while holding hitters to a .227 average. This will mark his fifth stint with the Dodgers in 2017 and he has gone 0-1 with a 3.12 ERA (6 ER/17.1 IP) in five starts for the OKC Dodgers this season.

    Font, 27, who will make his Dodger debut and his first big league appearance since 2013, went 10-8 with a 3.42 ERA (51 ER/134.1 IP) in 25 starts for the OKC Dodgers this season. Prior to his promotion, Font led the Pacific Coast League with a career-high 178 strikeouts and earlier in the month set Oklahoma City’s all-time single-season strikeout record since the team rejoined the PCL in 1998. On Monday, he was named to the 2017 All-Pacific Coast League Team after leading the PCL in ERA, WHIP (1.11), opponents’ batting average (.222) and strikeouts per nine innings (11.93), while also ranking among the best in starts (T-2nd), wins (T-3rd) and innings pitched (6th). Font was also named a midseason PCL All-Star and started the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 12, retiring the side in the first inning on four pitches. He was named PCL Pitcher of the Week twice this season, taking home the award for the periods of May 15-21 and July 10-16.

    The La Guaira, Venezuela native appeared in five big league games over two seasons with the Texas Rangers (2012-13), allowing two runs in 3.1 innings (5.40 ERA) and holding hitters to a .091 average. Over nine minor league seasons, Font has gone 38-29 with 18 saves and has posted a 3.61 ERA in 203 games (105 starts) with the Rangers (2007-14), Blue Jays (2016) and Dodgers (2017) organizations. He has held batters to a career .218 average in the minors and has struck out 730 batters against 271 walks in 618.2 innings, posting a 10.62 strikeout per nine innings.

    To create room on the 40-man roster, Los Angeles designated right-handed pitcher Jordan Jankowski for assignment.

    1. I am very glad to see Font get the call. As good of a year that Alex Verdugo has had, nobody deserved the promotion more than Wilmer. I was also pleasantly surprised to see O’Koyea get his call. It has been a long time coming and I could not be more happy for the young man. He has been patient and has never EVER been a problem. I am sure his parents are over the moon with excitement.
      But there does not seem to be room for Walker Buehler. It will certainly be very difficult to find a spot for both Buehler and Adam Liberatore who is on the 60 day DL and not on the 40 man. I assume Castillo can still be DFA’d, but he was placed on the 40 man for a reason. I cannot understand why, but FAZ never called me for advice. They could also trade someone for PTBNL (who seems to get moved a lot) or cash.
      Joc and Trayce could still get recalled, but I could just as easily see them back in AZ working on their swing. But I do not know how to deal with Joc’s psyche. A change of scenery is probably best for both player and team. Maybe for both.
      I am assuming Farmer gets recalled no later than Tuesday. Since he was optioned less than 10 days ago, I believe he has to wait for 10 days unless he is replacing an injured player. I do not know if the September 1 roster expansion date overrides that rule. It probably does not, or Kyle would be in the LAD dugout.

  4. Kershaw had one of his patented losing streak stop games. And the bullpen of Morrow, Watson, and Jansen with 6 K’s in their 3 innings of a 1-0 game was also outstanding. The Dodgers offense is going to run thru Seager and Bellinger. Taylor and JT are critical to winning, but Seager and Bellinger are the catalyst and exclamation point. Puig and Grandal will need their moments, and hopefully Chase, AGon, and Dre will get their clutch hits. Corey needs to take whatever time he needs to get ready for the post-season. He is too valuable to this team to come back too early.
    Joc had another 0-fer night. He just seems lost. He seems to be proving that he cannot adjust his way out of slumps. I feel badly for him, because with back to back 26 HR seasons he has value. Plus he is the only true CF on the 40 man. Taylor has the speed and athleticism to go East and West in the gaps, but going back is instinctual that takes a lot of experience. CF’s have to turn and run to where they think the ball will be. They cannot just watch it or if will go over their head. Taylor is a good enough athlete that he will get there, but he is not there yet. Verdugo does not have the speed to run down the balls in the gap that Taylor can, but he plays the position more naturally. I would keep Taylor in CF for the rest of the year because he is the one who will be there in the post-season. Alex can play left or right. I would not expect a Seager like September call up month for Alex. But he does appear to be a natural hitter.
    I was steadfast in my opinion that Puig should not be in the #5 hole in the lineup. I still feel that way, but I have never thought that he could not valuable in the #2 hole. He has been very good in that role previously. With Taylor on base, Puig is going to see more fastballs (and probably more fastball mistakes). Taylor is also not going to hold him up like AGon or Grandal. Grandy certainly is not producing in that role.

    1. AC

      I think all that you said about Joc and Taylor in center is true, but I don’t think Joc has been that same defensive player in center, this year.

      I saw Joc make mistakes on balls hit right to him at times this year, because his first step was forward, and not back.

      Joc is much more experienced going back up against the wall, but I don’t even know that Joc, would have caught that hard drive to the wall either, that Taylor had a problem with.

      And that is because Joc’s defense hasn’t quite been up to par like in previous years, so wouldn’t assume, that Joc would have caught that ball.

      I don’t think Joc could have even jumped as high as Taylor did, to try to catch that ball, even though, Taylor mis timed his jump.

      And what is interesting is the Joc and Taylor are the exact same height, but Joc is 25 pounds heavier then Taylor, I wonder if Joc’s extra weight, is slowing him down.

      And I don’t think we should worry so much about that one play, and I know it looked like the same play in the previous game, so I understand, why some were concerned.

      But like AC said, Taylor has the speed to get to most of the balls in the gaps, and Taylor’s speed, is something that Joc doesn’t have, so Taylor will get to more balls in the gaps, then Joc would.

      1. Right now the Dodgers do not have anyone you can pencil into that slot. Ideally it should be Puig. Taylor could but then who leads off. Seager could, but he is more valuable in the#2 role. JT is ideal in the #3, and Bellinger is a natural #4. If Barnes gets more AB’s he might be able to handle it. If Ethier warms up, he could bat there. IMO you waste one of Puig’s strengths by batting him behind AGon or Grandal who clog the bases. So you might have to live with Puig batting #5 until he proves he cannot. He is the most logical, and has the most potential in that role. Of course Giancarlo Stanton changes the whole picture if they can ever work anything out with the Fish. I think a #5 is on the shopping list for next year.
        With respect to Joc, I agree he has not played well defensively this year. But he remains the only true CF on the roster. I have seen Joc turn and run to where the ball should be. It is instinctual for him. He just has negative confidence both offensively and defensively right now. That is not a knock on Chris Taylor, who is a tremendous athlete, but not a natural CF. He can and will play there this year and do fine. But just like Trea Turner he is an infielder who can play CF.

        1. AC

          I think we need to try Puig in the fifth position, because we don’t have anyone else, to bat fifth, right now!

          I agree with you about Joc, and that is understandable, because Joc has only played center, unlike Taylor, who has played all over the field.

          I just thought some were assuming Joc would have made that catch, and I don’t think that was a given, with the way Joc has been on defense, this year.

          At times I feel bad for Joc, but I also think he has been given more chances, then most young players, would get on a team, like the the Dodgers.

          Taylor, and Toles were not given a position, that was there’s, like Joc was, they had to earn their way!

          And that is what Joc has to do, now!

          But Joc isn’t the only player on this team, that has struggled this year, so I feel bad for Joc, in that way.

          But I feel more bad for Bum, because he has stuck with Joc, all the way.

  5. With Puig’s improvement in patience and eye at the plate, I am fine with him hitting lower in the order. It is my opinion that Grandal is the one who should be hitting 8th.

  6. This GAME ONE lineup will strike terror in the Padres:

    1. Forsythe 2B
    2. Barnes C
    3. Kike SS
    4. Bellinger 1B
    5. Puig RF
    6. Sededin 3B
    7. Dickson LF
    8. Verdugo CF
    9. Stewart P

    Murderer’s Row!

    1. Yeah, I am sure Clayton Richard has asked to be replaced because of that line up. Ahhh, the luxury of a 16 game lead with 29 games to go. Even the 11.5 and 12 game lead over the Nats and Stros are not in play.

      1. AC: I wanted to thank you for all the info you gave us on Font yesterday but I couldn’t tell you of my appreciation because of some snafu on this site. If Stewart is starting today I’d love to see Font come in after him.
        I do agree with you on Thompson and Joc. Maybe it’s time to change uniforms over the winter. Also, you are 100% correct on Cory. He should not play or even PH until he is 100%
        Thanks again for all your input on our minor league system. It’s invaluable to everyone, I’m sure, here.

        1. Now and for the next week or two is a great time to find out what our players can do or need to go back down for more seasoning.

  7. Anybody out there have any idea what went so wrong for Joc this year? Had alot of great expectations for him, I really thought this would be his break out year. He has been around long enough in the majors to really take that next step, and I thought for sure he would. Seems like he is totally regressing. Is he a baseball nerd like Seager and Bellinger, always checking out video and trying to get better, does he actually listen to Turner Ward when he points out things to Joc, what is the deal? Hey, if Puig can turn it around, who I thought was long gone over the offseason, Joc shouldn’t have any problem. Big mystery to me, what a waste if he cant turn it around.

    1. Joc is more of a student of video games that baseball film. He’s also not a rocket scientist, if you get my drift… and he is just exposed!

      Before he came up, I always said he was a 4th or 5th outfielder. I think that was generous. Kike Hernandez is of the same ilk! Not bad guys but not students of the game.

      Part of the reason I like Yasmani Grandal is he is a baseball study nerd!

      1. So what I’m seeing between your lines Mark, is that he aint going to be in Dodger Blue much longer. I will admit they have given him a lot of rope over the years. May be time to cut it. Sounds like he’s taking in water at OKC.

  8. Just a quick update on the dwindling minor league season….
    At OKC, Tim Locastro continues to put his name in the discussion for 2018 with another 3 hit night. Kyle Farmer was also 3-5, and Edwin Rios was 2-3. Joc and Trayce were 0-4.
    Tulsa was a 4-3 winner over NW Arkansas (KC). Yadier Alvarez had a good final outing to 2017 with 6 strong innings . He allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits, 2 walks, and 7 K’s. Offensively, Errol Robinson was 3-5, Blake Gailen was 2-4, and Johan Mieses was 2-2 including his 15th HR. The Drillers remain 1 game up on the Springfield Cardinals with three games to play all against the Cardinals. Good luck to the Drillers this weekend.
    Rancho beat Lake Elsinore storm (SD) 11-3 to clinch their third consecutive playoff. Caleb Ferguson won his 9th game for the clincher. He finished the season in the hitter friendly California League with a 2.78 ERA. Former C/1B/3B Stetson Allie pitched his 2nd game at RC. In all of 2017, Allie has pitched 10 innings and allowed 0 runs n 5 hits, 6 walks, and 13K. Omar Estevez and Brandon Montgomery were both 3-5 and Luke Raley was 2-3. The best 3 out of 5 playoffs against the Lancaster JetHawks (Rockies) starts next week.
    Great Lakes lost to the Fort Wayne TinCaps (SD) 5-2. They have three games remaining in their season.
    Ogden lost to the Orem Owlz (Angels) 10-4 – Donovan Casey and Romer Cuadrado were both 2-4. The Raptors are now tied with the Owlz for the 2nd half championship.
    AZL Dodgers beat the AZL Royals 11-4 – Jacob Amaya was 4-5 and has had a very good second half of the season both defensively and offensively. I look forward to watching him grow even more next year. Jeremy Arocho, Shakir Albert, and Jefrey Souffront all had 2 hits. The Dodgers are 1 game up on the White Sox with one game to play. They need to win the game to win that 2nd playoff spot.
    Both DSL teams have 1-1 playoff records. Today should determine who goes on.

  9. Several check marks on today’s experiment. Turner gets the check for ‘clutch’. Puig and Taylor get it for a tad over enthused. Cody gets one for history. The call -ups all get TBD’s at a date soon as today was just too soon.

    1. No check for Font…he looked like crap. 1.2 IP, 2 hits, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K. 46 pitches only 24 for strikes. Doesn’t look like he’ll contribute much and certainly won’t challenge Baez….oh wait maybe he will Baez sucks also.

  10. Not sure what user name I have now. Used to be since 1958. Changed it kinda accidently. Oh well. Still got that WS fever.

  11. Good to see Kike actually take a pitch to RF. Puig has had some hits of lefties lately, finally. Font basically blew the game. Baez blows. Dickson’ s play in LF was humorous.

    Granderson should take over Puig’s spot in the 8 hole. Puig should hit 5th at this time. Good to see Andre getting a start tonight.

  12. I am losing patience with Joc, and get the feeling that he will be moved this offseason. But I haven’t given up on Trayce Thompson, given that he was still recovering from last years back injury. If he’s not traded, I think he deserves a long look next spring, assuming he has put his back problems behind him.

    Wilmer Font looked terrible today. Good velocity, but not much else. Total lack of command. Same can be said of Josh Rabin. Of course seeing someone once doesn’t tell the whole story. But it will take a lot more to convince me otherwise.

    I was impressed by what I saw of Alex Verdugo. Looks as if he will eventually hit. Tony Gwynn????? Not ready to go there. But sure would love to see it. Not sure where he would fit in on a playoff roster. Even the young Cory Seager struggled some in the 2015 NLDS. Sometimes even very talented young and inexperienced players struggle at the start of their careers.

  13. Gonna throw it out there with the risk of Mark and the rest of you guys piling on, but Darvish is terrible!! I made the call back in the preseason that we would get him at the July 31st deadline, and all the good feelings stop from there. Thank God we didn’t give up much for him. I totally expected a shutdown starter with an attitude. Am I the only one that wonders if he is even happy being a Dodger? I keep waiting for him to lock in, the announcers are totally giving him the benefit of the doubt, but the bottom line is the guy can’t even get out of the 4th or 5th inning without throwing 95 pitches. Yes, I know he has 5 or 6 different pitches he can throw, but how about throwing a few strikes right out of the box instead of going full counts to the weak hitters? I know all of you have seen this and felt this. I am really concerned going forward into the play-offs that we got a paper tiger instead of a bulldog. Hate to say this, and I know we would of had to pay half the farm system for him, but at least Verlander would give you his left #%$% for a win. Just saying, and yes, I am not a fact guy, but Darvish just looks so disinterested, no sense of urgency, no bulldog attitude like Kersh or Wood.

    1. I’m not sure disinterested is the word. He definitely lacks confidence right now. Against the Mets he had a lively fastball and a nasty, curve, slider, and change-up. Yes, the Mets offense is bad. Any offense with Granderson hitting in the top 4 has to be bad, but the Padres offense is bad too. Against Arizona he had some command issues, but was still pretty dominant. Ever since they have been working on his mechanics, he starts every count 1-0 and looks lost out there. Having said that, he also had some bad luck. A bunt single, a blown strike three call on Blash, Szucer’s hit was a cheap as it gets, as well as multiple ground balls with eyes beating our defensive alignments. On top of it, Gonzalez forgot who was jogging out of the batters box the first inning and could have gone 3-6-3 and got the traditional DP. I do agree that he needs to get a little bulldog in him though. Right now, whatever Honeycutt is doing with him is making him worse not better. I’ve never gotten golf lessons because I know there is a period where my game would get worse before it got better. Hopefully that is all we are seeing.

      Disinterested is a good way of how the club was run today. Sure the guys are trying, but they ran the ball club like it was a spring training split squad. Both Friday night and tonight, Utley was up against lefties with runner’s in scoring position and they let him K against a lefty both nights instead of pinch hitting which was a head scratcher with the expanded rosters. I get letting Andre get his AB’s, but Utley should have been hit for in my opinion.

      I sure hope someone steps up and wins a spot that puts Granderson on the bench or the Dodgers figure out he belongs at the bottom of the order where Joc was. . Let him hit somewhere between 6th-8th if we have to play him. Joc doesn’t look like he’s going to win his spot back so it is up to Adrian to hit his way into the lineup and force Bellinger to LF. Granderson crushes the ball FOUL every night. Unfortunately, that’s strike 1 or 2. Grandal shouldn’t be above 6-8 either. The one thing Grandal does do way better than Barnes is throw to 2nd base. I expect Wood to show up tomorrow. Hopefully, Dave manages to win with a good lineup. Other than Seager, let’s see our A lineup tomorrow.

      My dark horse to make the post season roster is Paredes. Good to see Watson have a couple of good outings finally, but I would like to see it against a good team.

  14. Although I am no longer a football fan, I recall a strategy sometimes used by teams with a big lead called the “prevent defense”. This strategy, which basically involved very deep zones to keep an offense from passing over their heads, in conjunction with very conservative offenses designed to avoid turnovers and to run time off of the clock, usually didn’t work. By trying not to lose, the team conceded all momentum and aggression to their opponents and frequently lead to snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory.

    The Dodgers stink right now. The starters (except Kershaw) haven’t gotten much out of the 3rd inning with their skins intact, the bullpen has been sloppy and the offense – well, what offense? They are so busy being cute with lineups involving players who shouldn’t be on the field that this will be 3 straight series losses.

    Who here thinks that the Dodgers can turn on winning with a switch?

    They’d better take the rest of the season seriously.

Comments are closed.