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!
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.
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: