clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2019 No. 1 prospect: Alex Verdugo

New, comments

Our countdown of the Dodgers top prospect ends with a look at No. 1, Alex Verdugo.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Though there’s little that could be said here that you haven’t already seen for yourself this season, Verdugo nonetheless entered the season as my top ranked prospect in a thinner than usual class at the top of the rankings. Verdugo’s adaptation to more power this year was what had previously held him back from reaching the 70 grade tier on this list, as he entered the season once again in my 65 tier. The need for more maturity to make him a better fit on a first division club also seems to have clicked for him thus far.

Verdugo has long been the best natural hitter in the Dodgers’ minor league ranks, and he’s carried over that hit tool to the Dodger bench/platoon group this year. He has one of the quicker triggers you will see from the left side, and he keeps his bat in the hitting zone for a long time. He used to get overly rotational at times in the past, but he’s shown much better extension at the plate of late.

While he’s more or less kept the same swing plane and batted ball profile, Verdugo has shown more willingness to turn on pitches in his wheelhouse, getting to more of his average power. He is a strong young player with excellent bat speed, so the bulk of his pop will come more from his exit velocity than his launch angle, and he still looks more comfortable in a line drive, gap to gap approach.

Verdugo was a quality draft prospect as a prep pitcher, and his plus arm has already been shown off a time or two this season. He has enough range to handle centerfield, though he’s not the fastest outfielder, but might end up more comfortable in a corner long term.

While it might be the early exuberance of catching on in the big leagues, Verdugo’s maturity has been less of a concern this year. He is a flashy player that has had the game come easy to him early in life, and that tended to show itself in his attitude a little too frequently in the minor leagues. Verdugo has most often been young for his level, and players can grow out of this mindset, often through overcoming professional adversity. This isn’t a red flag on Verdugo, but something to monitor as the year progresses.

In my previous write-ups on Verdugo, I’ve compared him to Nick Markakis as an atypical corner outfielder with hit over power, and I still believe the comparison holds up. Should Verdugo continue to develop his power, he may ultimately exceed Markakis’ upside. For now, Verdugo will move into a more challenging role, as he’s likely to see more exposure in less favorable matchups in the wake of A.J. Pollock’s injury. If Verdugo’s offensive production and maturity can hold up through his second time through the league, he will be well on his way to establishing himself into an every day role with the Dodgers. His consistent hard contact profile might make him even more valuable in the playoffs in an era when power pitching and strikeouts have been dominant.