Alex Verdugo had a strong season as one of the youngest players in the Pacific Coast League in 2017, and made his major league debut with the Dodgers in September.
What went right
Verdugo had a 20-game hitting streak for Triple-A Oklahoma City to close out June, part of a larger streak of 41 consecutive games reaching base by hit, walk or hit by pitch. He hit .368/.435/.528 during the 41-game streak.
In 117 games for Oklahoma City he hit .314/.389/.436 with 27 doubles, six home runs, and more walks (52) than strikeouts (50). He played all three outfield positions in Triple-A, mostly in center field (55 starts) and right field (45 starts).
Verdugo was a Pacific Coast League All-Star, and his performance in Triple-A earned him a major league call-up when roster limits expanded on Sept. 1.
He started each of his first four games in the majors, all in a three-day weekend series in San Diego. Verdugo’s major league debut came on Sept. 1, and his first major league hit was one day later, a single against Clayton Richard.
Though he didn’t start another game for the final four weeks of the season, Verdugo valued his September major league experience.
“To be out here and see them play and see their work ethic, it’s not a game up here,” Verdugo said on Friday at Dodger Stadium, in town along with other Dodgers prospects for some youth camps. “Everybody handles their business, everybody makes sure their ready to fight for the guy next to them.
“Now it’s more what can I do to stay?”
What went wrong
Verdugo only hit six home runs on the season, and through his first 52 games only had a .378 slugging percentage despite hitting .298 at the time.
“I’m going to take my physical strength seriously,” Verdugo said. “If I’m bigger and stronger the ball will travel a little bit more and take my game to the next level.”
Just two weeks into his first big league stint Verdugo showed up late to Nationals Park in September, not the best impression. He played just six of the final 16 games after the incident, accumulating only seven plate appearances.
Chalk it up to youth, as Verdugo is still just 21, with time to mature. To wit, when asked on Friday what foods he would like to eat now that former director of player development and nutrition enthusiast Gabe Kapler has moved on, Verdugo’s answer was enlightening.
“Honestly I just started eating healthy about three weeks ago, finally full-on giving it a go. I actually like the healthy food now,” Verdugo said. “I would eat it [at the ballpark], but when I got home I would have more junk food. I’m trying to clean up the diet a little bit.”
Stats: 4-for-23, HR, 2 BB in 15 games, .174/.204/.304
Salary: pro-rated share of major league minimum of $535,000, roughly $90,000
Game of the year
Verdugo’s first home run was a pinch-hit shot against Adam Ottavino of the Rockies on Sept. 10.
Verdugo has 31 days of major league service time, and three option years remaining.