The Next Tony Gwynn?

David Hood of TrueBlueLA has a nice writeup of Alex Verdugowhom he has ranked as the Dodgers #5 prospect.  I agree with most of what he says, so there is no need to re-hash what he says.  Here’s a sample:

There’s little doubt in my mind that Verdugo will at least hit for average at the major league level. I’ve seen few players where contact comes as easy to them as Verdugo. He has a lightning quick bat with almost no load, allowing him to allow pitches to travel deeper than his peers. While he employs a slight uppercut at finish most of the time, his swing will level out occasionally and lead to too many ground balls.

Verdugo shows more power potential and whole-body incorporation in his batting practice swings, which does give hope to more power down the road. His current game power is fringe average, however, because his contact-heavy approach is less conducive to pulling the ball, and he lacks the strength for all field power. Just bat speed alone should allow Verdugo to flirt with 15 to 20 home runs annually in his prime.

Verdugo’s prodigious bat speed and hand speed give him the physical tools to be more selective at the plate, and he started to develop this approach in 2016. Verdugo doubled his walk rate to 8.4 % while still keeping his strikeout rate at a low 12.6%. The next step for Verdugo will be more selectivity on pitches in the zone, where too often he offered at pitcher’s pitches leading to easier outs early in the count. A combination of early-pitch selectivity to target pitches to pull and a more consistent swing plane could lead to more usable game power.

Alex Verdugo has a chance to be very good.  A friend of mine, who is in baseball (not with the Dodgers) said: “He reminds me of Tony Gwynn.”  Read what I wrote carefully – I did not say that, although I think he is a guy who could win a batting title someday, but the fact that he was mentioned in the same breath as Gwynn should give anyone pause.One possible problem with Verdugo is that he (allegedly) has a bit of an attitude – maybe maturity and experience will iron that out, but he doesn’t always hustle like he should and his work ethic is questioned by some.  Again, I am not jumping to conclusions – just passing along certain observations.  He’s very young.The other problems is that he is LH in a system that is heavy on LH hitters.  Corey Seager and Joc Pederson were two of the most recent rookies to be promoted and the Tp 3 hitting prospects in the Dodger system are all LH: Verdugo, along with Bellinger and Calhoun.  Odds say that all three will not make the team, but be used as trade bait for a RH power bat.We shall see, but it might be fun to see Verdugo develop.The Dodgers are the last team to report to Spring Training and it is happening as we speak… ‘er write!

It’s (Almost) Time for Dodger Baseball!

Photo credit:  Bill Mitchell/Baseball AmericaHere’s a few more Spring Training Pics from years gone by.  Also, a picture from Spring Training 2009 taken in the Camelback batting practice area.  I am about to throw a 49 MPH Fastball to the late Roger Sobin.  R.I.P. Roger – we all miss you!  P.S.  Look at that leg kick – I look like a R H Clayton Kershaw!  Ha!  Also, there are a couple of shots Ron Perranoski, with whom I have had many conversations.  He’s bitter at the Dodgers and Tommy – the fault is on boths sides. Also, Manny Mota on his bike.I have also created a new page called “INSIDE CAMELBACK” which is located on the Top Menu Bar beside 2017 Spring Training.  It has a lot of photos behind the scenes in the offices, dining area, locker room and workout areas.

Sights and Sounds of Spring Training


This article has 27 Comments

  1. reports all pitchers seem to be healthy.
    Verdugo and Calhoun are only a year away. Toles is ready now. That’s three good lefty hitting players looking for a place on the 25. All three could be traded and two of them could replace Puig if he were traded.
    Just seems like the Dodgers should be able to have a balanced young core of players no later than 2018.

    1. Bum

      I don’t know if you read this same article that Mark posted, from TrueBlueLA, but the writer goes on to compare Verdugo and Toles, in this article.

      And I would take Toles with his prior problem with his nerves, over any player, that thinks he is all that.

      But even with that, Verdugo is still really young, so I wouldn’t want to put a label on him either.

      He can’t help how his father is, and I would think most kids, would be embarrassed, with that type of behavior.

      What will probably happen, is that Verdugo will have some struggles a long the way, like almost every player has, and that will tell you what type of player, he is going to be.

      But that is why it isn’t good to label, or assume anything, about anyone that young.

      And that is something that Mark does well, because he doesn’t always, make a judgement.

      He will instead, just list the facts, or what the other writer, has already wrote about a player.

    1. I have a friend in AZ who knows Alex’s dad and I don’t want to reveal too much, because it could jeopardize my friends job, but let’s just say that the father is a piece of work. If Alex is a head case, he may have acquired it naturally. I wish I could tell the story my friend told, but because it involves his job, I can’t say anything except that for the father, Karma is a B________!

      Thanks for stopping by Gonzo!

    2. Thanks for posting that Gonzo.

      I have two sons, who played on traveling/high school basketball teams for years. I encouraged participation in sports as a way for the boys to see what they could accomplish with hard work. Unfortunately, it was really sad to see sooo many parents (some Moms were the worst) get into it with coaches regarding playing time/practice and other issues. I won’t even get into how some parents disparaged the refs over various calls. Rather than trying to teach their kids how to deal with perceived adversity, many parents acted like complete asses with their “sense of entitlement” and there wasn’t a single D1 athlete among them.

      Hopefully, Verdugo who now is playing with equally or more gifted athletes and without his Dad’s constant participation will mature as a player and person.

    3. I think make-up is often a hard thing for me as a fan to evaluate. It’s easy to read scouting reports about arm strength or hitting prowess, but you (usually, at most) only get a sentence or two about personality or coachability.

    4. Also, having just read this article made me think about an interview I just conducted.

      Was with a young kid who played some college ball. I asked about arm health, about concerns about throwing too many innings.

      The kid said that coaches just let kids throw and throw. No care about innings, no care about % of sliders/curves. And this mentality stretches back to High School! High School!

      Now, the author is correct that the way the message was conveyed wasn’t ideal. But I find it appalling how unaware amateur coaches are about arm health.

  2. I certainly hopes he straightens out and hat his father was the determining factor. Otherwise with his perceived attitude, work ethic and sometimes lack of hustle, we will have a lefthanded Puig playing for us.

  3. Great photos. I’ll be there in about a month. Too bad WBC is screwing things up a bit. Not much is being said about this being Roberts’ second year as manager. I think he will be better at it than he was last year. The on field staff has stabilized, and that can’t hurt. Hopefully he won’t have to manage injuries to the pitching staff. That will always be a killer. I will worry about Kershaw’s back until the season is over. I hope that is all it is. Worry.

  4. I’d hate to lose Bellinger, but would be fine trading the others for a premium R/H bat. Any ideas for potential trade partners?

  5. Verdugo’s dad is something… However, IIRC, i think I heard AV was adopted. Take it with a grain of salt. I totally believe that behaviors are learned regardless of genes.

    Talking free agency now, I pounce on Machado once he’s a FA. What happens to Turner? He moves to 1B when AG’s contract runs out? What about Bellinger? We’ll know about Puig’s future this season and Cody could play either corner position for a year which could coincide with JT’s final season.

    Defensively I’d like to see in 2019
    C-Grandal S
    1B Turner R
    2B- Forsythe R
    SS- seager L
    3B- Machado R
    LF – Bellinger/Toles L/L
    CF- Joc L
    RF- Bellinger/Puig L/R

    Pretty even balanced and YOUNG

    1. I’m thinking that if Machado can play shortstop, he can play second and he can play shortstop, therefore…
      Bellinger is a 50 outfielder and a 70 first baseman. I think he should stay at first.
      I think long term Toles is the best bet to be a regular outfielder to play with Joc and the next big trade for a solid righty hitting right fielder. Puig and Verdugo should get that young right fielder assuming Machado were signed as a free agent to play second.

      1. I agree, Ideally you’d want him at 1st day 1. However there will still be some contracts that overlap his entrenchment at 1st (JT) he’d have to play OF 1 season or 2 tops then lock in at 1B. Remember Pujols started in the OF for a while before moving permanently to 1b

    2. Gonzo

      Hawkeye was saying that Arendano is going to be a free agent, right after Turner’s contract ends.

      And that would make a good discussion about which third basemen, would be a better fit, for the Dodgers.

      Just off my head, I would think Arendano, would be a little more durable, then Manny is.

      Because Manny has had surgery on both of his knees, and although he has seemed to be healthy since, he still may have trouble with his knees, in the future.

      And Arendano would be a better fit also, because he won’t be available, until Turner’s contract, ends, unlike Manny.

  6. Bellinger has the talent to be one of the TOP 5 Defensive First Basemen… EVER! He is incredible on defense. It’s not a question of IF he plays 1B – it’s when!

    On Nolan Arenado:

    Arenado’s splits:

    Coors Field – .308 BA / .355 OB% / .937 OPS
    Not Coors Field – .261 BA / .305 OB% / .762 OPS

    Remember Vinny Castilla? He was a monster at Coors: 32 HR/40 HR/40 HR/46 HR
    33 HR. Then he goes to Houston and ATL and hits 23/12/22. Then he goes back to Coors and hits 35, then back to Washington and hits `12.
    Turner hits .361 at Coors with a .425 OB% and .981 OPS!
    If Nolan Arenado leaves Colorado he will be an average hitter.

    1. Mark


      I thought I saw on the MLB Channel, that they said, that Arendano’s splits away, and home, were even, so I didn’t think Coors, was that big of a factor.

      1. Manny Machado plays in Camden Yards which is also a real hitters park, but his splits are nearly identical.

      2. Most players splits are better at home. I don’t think Nolan’s are so bad on the road that I would worry about it. He’s so young, he’s just going to get better offensively and I don’t think he can get better defensively. He is amazing with the glove. We all know Arenado grew up a huge Dodgers fan so he if doesn’t sign an extension in the next couple of years I can see him in Dodger Blue. However, who wouldn’t want Machado.

  7. Mike Rod asked about trade partners. If Baltimore starts out poorly, they might be wise to trade Machado (and if the Dodgers could work out a 10 years $300 million deal with him) they could trade Calhoun, Verdugo, Alvarez, Buehler, Hernandez and another prospect or two for him. I would also insist that they take Gonzo as part of that deal.

    This would be my ideal lineup:

    1. Toles LF
    2. Puig RF
    3. Seager SS
    4. Machado 3B
    5. Turner 2B
    6. Pederson CF
    7. Grandal C
    8. Bellinger 1B

    1. Can’t see FAZ doing your trade proposal EVER! Giving up lots of top prospects, including two potential 1’s, for an extra year and half of Machado, just isn’t the way FAZ competes EVERY year. It would be a lot cheaper to pursue Machado as a free-agent after the 2018 season and pay market price

      1. Here’s my thinking:

        1. All of the prospects will not pan out… maybe 50%; and
        2. With Machado, we might win it all in 2017 and 2018 and we still have stud pitchers in the pipeline.

        That is one hell of a lineup.

        1. Machado is a stud. Would love to have him. Looking at the 2018 free-agents, he looks like the one I would want most, maybe LeMahieu/Segura depending on cost and how Seager is looking at short. But I just can’t see FAZ trading all the prospects, especially Alvarez and Buehler, to replace Forsythe with Machado a year and half before them being able to sign him as a free-agent.

          1. You are probably right, but I would consider it.

            Alvarez is very high risk and Buehler is slight of build so he’s high-risk too.

  8. There are going to be more scouts watching the Dodgers abundance of pitchers and outfielders this spring than any other team. Someone always goes down with an injury and the Dodgers are set to handle it. Even so, they have more starters than they need. Baltimore would be a great trade partner. Honestly, I feel good about every position on the team this year (In Puig I trust!). However, to be World Champions I would fee better if they could move a healthy Kazmir or McCarthy or Wood to Baltimore for Brach or O’Day. The O’s have SP woes, Tillman won’t be ready opening day and the Dodgers have beyond excess.

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