The Dodgers’ outfield log jam has been well covered the past several years and as we roll into the offseason, 2017 promises to be more of the same. As it stands now, the outfield looks be some mix of Joc Pederson, Trace Thompson,Andrew Toles, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier and Howie Kendrick. A name we should probably add to that list is Alex Verdugo. While I don’t expect him to impact the big league roster right away in 2017, there could be a point next summer, where he works his way into their plans.
In Verdugo, the Dodgers have an athletic outfielder who, while he can handle center field, is likely to end up on the corner where he profiles as an above-average defender. He takes good routes and reads the ball well off the bat, so I expect those abilities to translate fine with a move to the corner. On the offensive side Verdugo does have some pop, but it plays more as doubles/gap power potential. Where he shines is in his advanced approach at the plate, and in his feel for the barrel. In his first look at Double-A pitching, Verdugo got 529 PAs and posted a 12.7 K-rate while walking 44 times and hitting 23 doubles. He did only slug .743, but for a kid that didn’t turn 20 years old until May, it shows a solid approach, and an ability to make fairly consistent hard contact. The body doesn’t suggest that he will get a whole lot bigger, but there is some baby fat on his frame, and I expect that he will continue to get stronger. The 13 jacks he hit in Tulsa this year were four more than he hit in 540 PAs across two Class A levels, so the strength is developing. Couple that with the fact that he has adjusted to every level he’s been promoted to, and it is a good indication that the trend will continue. So far in Arizona, he has shown good ABs, even with some early struggles, and that includes a good ABs vs. left-handed pitching. He has a feel for the strike zone and maintains good balance throughout his stroke, and while Double-A surely isn’t the big leagues, he was not overmatched. His power numbers fall off a bit vs. lefties (only a .691 OPS in 2016), but he did hit seven doubles and two HR’s while still showing good plate discipline in 106 ABs.
Overall, it looks like the Dodgers have another athletic, well-rounded player with instincts who will contribute sooner rather than later. He does not seem at all intimidated being young for each level he’s been at, and I don’t expect that trend to change when he arrives in Los Angeles. While I don’t think that they are the same player, the energy and style of play remind me a bit of Pederson, just with a little less juice and a slightly better of a hit tool. Here’s my full report on Verdugo.