Dodgers outfield prospect Alex Verdugo had an RBI double for Mexico’s national baseball team in an exhibition win over Japan, 7-3 at the Tokyo Dome on Thursday, part of a four-game series set up in preparation for the 2017 World Baseball Classic in March.
Verdugo doubled in the fourth inning against Japanese right-hander Shota Tokeda, driving home Augustin Murillo to tie the score at 1-1.
Verdugo narrowly missed a home run in the sixth inning, driving a ball just to the right of the right field foul pole. Two pitches later, he struck out. He hit another hard line drive to right field in the eighth inning, but Seiya Suzuki made a fine sliding catch to retire Verdugo.
The 20-year-old outfielder, drafted by the Dodgers in the second round in 2014, started in center field and batted seventh for Mexico. He finished the game 1-for-4, and made a fielding error in the eighth, bobbling a drive into the right center field gap.
Japan scheduled four exhibition games at the Tokyo Dome over four days, playing Mexico on Thursday and Friday followed by the Netherlands on Saturday and Sunday.
Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is on the trip with Mexico as well, though he did not play in Thursday’s game. He did have time to meet with Japanese sensation Shohei Otani before the game (the picture above).
Otani, 22, is one of the very best players in the world both as a pitcher and as a hitter. He was profiled extensively by Daniel Brim at Dodgers Digest last week.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post compared him — Otani, not Brim — to Babe Ruth, and said Otani might get $300 million if/when he comes to the United States.
Otani did not start on Thursday, but did pinch hit in the eighth inning.
Down 4-3 with the tying run on second base, the left-handed-batting Otani faced southpaw reliever and 14-year MLB veteran Oliver Perez, and struck out swinging on three pitches.
Mexico rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth to widen the final margin. Verdugo just missed getting a fifth plate appearance, on deck as the top of the ninth inning ended.
Gonzalez, whose brother and former Padres teammate Edgar manages the Mexican national team, tweeted out a picture of himself before the game, enjoying Tokyo.
Greetings from Japan pic.twitter.com/YMhMfLbBL9— Adrián González (@Adrian_ElTitan) November 10, 2016
Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda was on hand as well, though as an observer.
Mexico and Japan will play again on Friday, with the game starting at roughly 2 a.m. PT, and available to watch live on YouTube.