- April 14, 2021: 2 for 4 and 3 for 4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI
If ever there was a player built for a doubleheader, it is Alex , otherwise known as the Energizer Bunny of the Boston Red Sox. The outfielder plays at a frenetic pace, be it with his glove, his bat or on the bases.
After hanging on for a 3-2 win in Game 1 on Verdugo’s clutch diving catch, Boston turned the tables on Twins ace José Berríos and the bullpen in the fifth inning of a 7-1 conquest in Game 2.
Verdugo fueled his team with his glove in Game 1 and his bat in both games. Both were seven innings. Fourteen innings later, Verdugo probably could have kept going.
“I've always been a very emotional player,” Verdugo said. “Whether it's good or bad, I like to show some emotions, and obviously when we come through and we make big plays or score some runs and take a lead or something like that, those are big moments, and those are kind of game changers.”
Verdugo was a game changer for sure on this day. In the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 1, the Twins thought they were the ones about to change the game. With a runner at second and two outs, Luis Arraez hit a sinking liner to left that definitely would have tied it.
But Verdugo raced to get there and outstretched his glove for a diving snag that ended the game. His reaction at first was almost a shrug and a wave of his arms, as if to say, “No big deal.” Then he let loose, as closer Matt Barnes wrapped him up in a bear hug. (Browne - mlb.com - 4/14/2021)
|Nickname:||Dugie or Albert||Position:||OF|
|Birth City:||Tucson, AZ|
|Draft:||Dodgers #2 - 2014 - Out of high school (AZ)|
Verdugo is a Tucson product from Sahuaro High who committed to Arizona State in his senior year, 2014.
Spring 2014: Verdugo, Baseball America's Preseason High School All-American utility player, entered the spring as the top two-way high school prospect in the class, though the consensus leaned toward him on the mound. He has had an uneven spring with blister issues that kept him out for a few weeks and question about his effort level.
Scouts have not liked his body language or effort at times on the mound early in 2014, and have noted immature behavior.
As a position player, Verdugo profiles as a corner outfielder with an above-average arm, below-average speed, and hitting potential. Some teams believe he wants to go out as a hitter, but his potential future is definitely on the mound.
In 2014, Verdugo got drafted by the Dodgers (see Transactions below).
In 2015, Alex was the Dodgers' Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year. Verdugo spent most of the season in Class A, before a late-season promotion to Class A Advanced. Verdugo had a combined 45 extra-base hits and a .781 OPS.
In 2015, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Verdugo as the 5th-best prospect in the Dodgers organization.
He was at #4 in the winter before 2017 spring training. He moved up to #2, behind only RHP Walker Buehler, in the offseason before 2018 spring training. Alex was #2 again, in the spring of 2019, behind only C Keibert Ruiz in the Dodgers farm system.
Some scouts are concerned with his inconsistent effort, a complaint dating back to his prep days. (Spring, 2017)
Verdugo's father is Mexican. So Alex was able to travel to Japan as part of Team Mexico for a four-game series of exhibitions in preparation for the March 2017 World Baseball Classic.
“Going over there, it was just so different than anything I’ve ever been opened up to—the culture, the people, how they are and how they act and how much respect they treat you with. And they are nuts about baseball. There were probably 30,000 people in the stands . . . and they did not sit down.”
The Rangers kind of put Alex on a fast-track through their system.
“Out of high school, I didn’t really know anything about pro ball,” said Verdugo, a lefthanded batter who plays mostly center field. “I told everybody I wanted to be in the big leagues in two to three years.
“Then I got into pro ball and everybody was like, ‘That’s not really how it works. A lot of people spend a year in one spot and go up year by year.’ I was, ‘That’s awful. What?’
“But as players, we know if we’re doing everything right and we’re playing our best and doing our best to be great teammates, we know that we have that chance to move up.” (Bill Plunkett - Baseball America - 1/13/2017)
Alex represented the Dodgers in the 2017 All-Star Futures game. Verdugo was a hot name in trade speculation as the trade deadline approach at the end of July, 2017.
"Starting pitching with upside is probably the most valuable currency in the game," GM Farhan Zaidi said. "But Verdugo is a 21-year-old hitting (near) .350 in the Pacific Coast League. (He has) more walks than strikeouts and probably has the best outfield arm in the league—he's a terrific talent. And frankly, he's big league ready or close to being big league ready.
"So when you start making that calculation of somebody asking for him in a deal, it feels a little bit like robbing Peter to pay Paul, because you're not talking about trading the future for the present. You're trading a guy who's just about part of the present."
One of the youngest position players at just about every stop since he was taken in the second round out of his Tucson high school in the 2014 draft, Verdugo reached the all-star break batting .346/.416/.463 with three home runs in 79 games. He started in both the PCL all-star game and the Futures Game.
"In a lot of other organizations or situations, he might already be up in the big leagues," Zaidi said. "The feeling is, it's not a matter of if, but when, he comes up and makes an impact for us."
"I remember saying this about Julio and Corey and Joc and Cody—it's really hard to imagine a plausible scenario where it makes sense for us to move him." (Bill Plunkett - Baseball America - 7/15/2017)
Verdugo has been susceptible to criticism of his effort level. He needs better focus and more maturity.
MLB debut (Sept. 1, 2017): The Dodgers started Verdugo in the outfield in a 1-0 win over the Padres. He went 0-for-3 with a walk.
In the fall of 1989, an adrift Las Vegas teenager named Andre Agassi found Gil Reyes, then the strength coach for UNLV’s basketball team.
When the Runnin’ Rebels won the 1990 national championship, Reyes quit to tutor the wild, eager pupil. For the next 16 years, he mentally and physically trained Agassi, designing and building weight-lifting machines specifically to tone a body for tennis. The partnership fostered great success. Agassi became an international sporting icon and won eight Grand Slam titles. Within his 2009 autobiography, Open, Agassi described Reyes as his “surrogate father.”
Now, Reyes has a new mentee. He, too, is young, athletically gifted, and on the cusp of success at his sport’s highest level, if he can prove he is mature enough. But this one plays baseball. He is Alex Verdugo, the Dodgers’ top position prospect, who spent the entire winter training at Reyes’ Las Vegas gym. (MLB with KEN ROSENTHAL - March 2018)
In the spring of 2018, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts praised Verdugo for showing greater maturity. Roberts said Verdugo’s improved focus and professionalism came from conversations they had in September 2017, but also from the 22-year-old’s own initiative.
“It was a combo. But the credit goes to him,” Roberts said of the 2014 second-rounder out of a Tucson high school. “He’s just understanding what our guys do to be successful, and he’s taking it upon himself to make that his own.
“We had a conversation. But it’s got to be the player who has to buy into it. Alex is a player over the past couple years I’ve really tried to get to know and be clear what our expectations are for him.”
“For me, it’s knowledge,” Verdugo said of the lesson he learned from last September. “I was up there for a month. I got to see the game. I got to interact with the players . . . Even when I was in the minors, I watched the big leaguers . “Just to be out here and see them play, see them work, see their work ethic—that’s what I took from that experience. It’s not a game up here. Everybody handles their business and makes sure they’re ready. ”
Verdugo has the potential to be a high-average, moderate power outfielder like Nick Markakis, but only if he improves his effort.
- April 22, 2019: A week earlier, the Dodgers defeated the Reds to begin a three-game series. Afterward, manager Dave Roberts shot a text to Alex Verdugo to inform the 22-year-old rookie he was starting in right field the next day.
“I said, ‘I’m going to need you tomorrow,’” Roberts recalled. “And he said, “‘I got you.’”
That night, before Verdugo stepped into the batter’s box to face lefthander Zach Duke in the seventh inning with two on and two out, he and Roberts had a conversation in the dugout during a mound visit. The Reds had just intentionally walked Enrique Hernandez with first base open, electing to face Verdugo. Roberts and Verdugo discussed the situation. Verdugo oozed confidence.
“I told him, ‘Doc, don’t worry, baby,’” Verdugo said. “I got you. I got you.”
Moments later, Verdugo was standing at second base after splitting the left-center field gap for a two-run double. Dodger Stadium roared. Verdugo held his arms out in celebration. He looked and pointed at Roberts. The manager pointed back. He got him.
“I was like, ‘Yup. Mmm. Let’s goooo!’” Verdugo said.
After the game, Verdugo said he considered the Reds’ decision to intentionally walk Hernandez a sound baseball move but a slap in the face. The episode was an example of Verdugo making his presence felt before and after he showcases his well-rounded skill set between the lines. He’s lively and light-hearted. He dances. He speaks his mind. He warns everyone, “Don’t let the kid get hot!" Teammates laugh, go with it, and egg him on. Roberts said he finds Verdugo genuine and refreshing. Veteran third baseman Justin Turner calls his relentless energy and swagger entertaining.
But the front office had concerns before this season about Verdugo's maturity level, something Verdugo recognized and acknowledged. He said he tried toning down his personality during his brief stints in the majors the past two seasons to fit in. He was more mellow. Calmer. Breaking spring training with the team for the first time, he believes, has allowed his peers to understand him better and given him greater confidence to be himself.
“He’s a young guy who brings a lot of energy to the field every day,” Turner said. “And he’s a guy you kind of just got to nudge him in the right direction and sit back and enjoy the show that he puts on.” (Jorge Castillo - Apr 22, 2019)
Verdugo’s shows at Dodger Stadium open with his walk-up song, Vicente Fernández’s “Volver Volver.” It elicits a crescendo from the crowd before every at-bat, whatever the score, whatever the inning. The track is an ode to his heritage and his father, Joseph, whose love for Mexican music ensured it was included in Verdugo’s childhood soundtrack growing up in Tucson. Joseph would play it when he cleaned the house and picked up his son school.
The music became embedded in Verdugo’s identity. He was born and raised in Arizona but played for Mexico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He said his father and siblings speak Spanish, but he doesn’t. He wants to learn. He hopes to pick up the language from teammates — though he noted Julio Urias messes with him too much — before hiring a tutor at some point.
“I would just say I’m proud to be Mexican,” Verdugo said. “My dad’s Mexican. My mom’s white, so I’m half. . . . It’s kind of made me feel at home. I don’t hide who I am. I know I can’t speak Spanish. I know all that. Just because you can’t speak Spanish don’t mean you’re not Mexican, doesn’t mean you should hold back or not be involved with stuff.
The song has helped Verdugo become an instant fan favorite. His performance on the field has only catapulted his popularity. He exhibited his arm strength throwing out Hernan Perez at home from left field with a 98.4-mph one-hopper to end the eighth inning in the Dodgers’ win over the Brewers. Verdugo jogged off the field, his thick gold chains ricocheting off his chest, yelling to no one in particular.
“Hopefully, in the future, they’ll learn from it,” Verdugo said after the game of opponents wanting to test his arm.
At the plate, he’s batting .333 with three home runs, 13 runs batted in and a .986 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 53 plate appearances. The success has come in a foreign role. Top prospects usually don’t arrive in the majors to find a bench role waiting for them. But Verdugo, who batted .321 the last two seasons with triple-A Oklahoma City, is the Dodgers’ fourth outfielder. He’s appeared in 23 of the Dodgers’ 24 games, but made just six starts.
“He’s exceeding everyone’s expectations,” Turner said. “Not that no one thought he couldn’t hit .300, .350, or whatever, and play good defense. We all knew that. But to do it in the role he’s in and be mature enough to handle it and take advantage of his opportunities, I think it’s something we’re all really proud of.”
While he’s become a weapon off the bench, going 4 for 10 as a pinch hitter, Verdugo has delivered, above all, in clutch situations. With runners on base, he’s 10 for 28. With runners in scoring position, he’s six for 13. With runners in scoring position and two outs, he’s five for nine with three doubles. He produced one of those doubles last Tuesday against Duke. It was Verdugo’s third hit of the game. He finished with three RBIs. He couldn’t conceal his fiery delight at second base.
“It’s good,” Verdugo said, “to have a little flavor.” (Jorge Castillo - Apr 22, 2019)
Alex was wearing pink spikes on Mother's Day 2019 personalized to pay tribute to his mom. He also had a nice shiny gift wrapped and ready to give her for Mother’s Day, with much bigger future plans if his career and salary continue the current uptrend.
Verdugo said that’s the least he can do for a mother that also served as the family breadwinner and his career advisor.
“She’s the reason why I’m here, taking care of all of us on her salary alone,” he said. “She paid for my baseball lessons. Baseball lessons, mental lessons about the mindset and strategies of baseball. She would find me the best instructors. We would drive from Tucson to Phoenix every weekend to play for a travel team based out of Phoenix, waking up at 4:30 in the morning. They made a lot of sacrifice for me and I’m forever grateful. My goal is to look out for my family for everything they’ve done for me.” (Gurnick - mlb.com - 5/12/19)
2019 Season: Verdugo, who ended up missing the final two months of the season due to a back injury. However, he showed great promise before the injury, so having him back at 100 percent next season could potentially be the missing link the Dodgers desperately needed in the 2019 playoffs.
Over 106 games, Verdugo had 101 hits and drove in 44 runs, while scoring 43 of his own. He hit 22 doubles, two triples, and 12 home runs, showing a knack for extra-base hits He was also a part of the rookie walk-off three-peat, as he hit the second of the three home runs on back-to-back-to-back days on June 22 against the Rockies. He ended the season with a .294 batting average, but there’s no telling what he might have done in September and into October for the playoffs.
Jan 3, 2020: One of the subplots to this offseason for the Dodgers is what to make of Alex Verdugo. At the Children’s Holiday Party at Dodger Stadium, the outfielder said his “goal” is to be ready for Opening Day, certainly leaving open the possibility that he won’t. He suffered a back/oblique/core injury that cost him the final two months of the regular season and the Dodgers’ National League Division Series loss to the Nationals.
Verdugo went on to say that as he continues to rehab, he has not resumed any baseball activities. Maybe that’s why the Dodgers haven’t dealt Verdugo or Joc Pederson from a position where the Dodgers have a surplus. Club officials say there is no concern with the 23-year-old’s health long-term, but initially nobody thought his injury was this serious.
“I think anybody that’s had something wrong with your back would understand,” Verdugo said. “Any activity you do, your back helps a lot. It’s a lot of frustration, but all I can do is stay positive. I’m going in the right direction. My goal is going to be starting Opening Day. We’ll just see how the days and weeks go and how I recover.”
The Dodgers have been vague about Verdugo’s specific diagnosis, which has included lower back soreness and a right oblique strain. Manager Dave Roberts said Verdugo first felt back discomfort after playing on the artificial surface at Tropicana Field against the Rays in late May. He was batting .311 with an .869 OPS at the time, having replaced the injured Pollock in center field.
He continued to play through the discomfort, but his production dropped off noticeably from mid-July on, when he finished 11-for-53 (.208) with one home run and one RBI before going on the injured list on Aug. 6 with what was listed as a right oblique strain. After rehabbing in Arizona, Verdugo seemed to be nearing a return when he suffered a setback during a Minor League rehab assignment with Ogden.
“Rehab is going good,” Verdugo said. “It’s just really about stacking together really good days. Keep testing it, incorporating more workouts in my routine. It’s about how I recover and come back the next day. If I’m sore, what am I feeling? We’re on a good pace right now with what we’re trying to do.” (K Gurnick - MLB.com - Jan 3, 2020)
Spring Training 2020: Verdugo saw it as a chance to put his own spin on things, to stand out from the crowd.
As the blue-chip return in the Mookie Betts trade, Verdugo will have many eyes on him this season. Slotted to take the beloved Betts’ place in the outfield after the Feb. 10 swap with the Dodgers, the 23-year-old has some big shoes to fill.
And now, Verdugo has an equally big number on his back. He recently switched from his club-assigned No. 12 to become the first player to wear No. 99 in Red Sox history.
“I looked through the roster,” Verdugo said, “and that was the one that kind of stood out the most to me.
“It’s just a number, but I think it doesn’t look too bad.”
There was a little more to it than that, though. The talented outfielder wore No. 27 during his Dodgers tenure, but those digits were retired by the Red Sox in 2000 to honor Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk. Boston, in turn, issued Verdugo No. 12, a solid consolation prize and a strong number worn by Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar and Wade Boggs.
That was precisely why Verdugo didn’t like it.
“I didn’t want to wear a number that a player had just previously worn, either,” Verdugo said. (Brock Holt wore No. 12 for Boston for the past seven seasons.) “This is kind of a little bit unique. It’s not like everybody’s number, so it just stands out a little bit more.” (Dawn Klemish - Feb. 18, 2020)
2020 Season: The Red Sox utilized Verdugo at all three outfield positions but he was the primary starter in right field, appearing in 31 games at the position while logging 22 appearances in left. Verdugo only started one game in center field last season.
Verdugo has the chops to handle center field but his bat is also a significant reason for his lofty ranking. In 53 games during the abbreviated 2020 season, Verdugo hit .308 with an .844 OPS, six home runs and four stolen bases. His 62 hits tied him for 10th in the American League and he was 12th with 36 runs scored. (Sean Penney - Jan. 14, 2021)
To watch the emotion is pretty fun. Some players show that type of excitement and joy every once in a while. For Verdugo, that's just how he is!
"I'm a very fired up person," Alex told reporters in Sept., 2020. "I play with a lot of passion. I have a lot of emotions. For me, I like showing them. I'm the type of person, I need to get them out and I feed off of it. I'm not the type of person that if I get angry, I make errors or I'm lazy. I get angry, and I feed off of it. I have this fire that starts burning."
When he had to change uniform numbers -- his previous numger, 27, is retired in honor of Carlton Fisk -- Alex wanted to pick a number no Red Sox player had ever worn. He chose 99 because he felt it fit his personality. As an added bonus, it paid homage to Manny Ramirez, who switched to that number when he was traded from the Red Sox to the Dodgers in 2008.
Even Verdugo's walk-up song, "Volver, Volver," by renowned Mexican artist Vicente Fernande, stands out among his teammates. Verdugo's father is Mexican, and hearing Fernande's music when he steps to the plate allows Alex to stay connected to his family roots. One of his gloves is painted red, whit4e and green to look like Mexico's flag. He has matching cleats, as well.
Alex' mother is from Minnesota, and he has even been known to do some ice fishing during the winter.
2020 Season: For the Boston Red Sox, 2020 was a year to forget. Although the Red Sox finished last in the AL East, there were a few reasons to be hopeful for the future. One bright spot was Alex Verdugo. After being the centerpiece in the Mookie Betts deal, Verdugo arrived in Boston with high expectations. The former top prospect did not put up MVP numbers, but he was one of Boston’s best hitters. As the Red Sox hope to return to the playoffs, Verdugo will be looking to build on his strong 2020 campaign.
In 53 games last year, Verdugo hit .308 and drove in 15 runs. The Arizona native also hit six home runs and tied a career-high with four stolen bases. After spending three years in the National league, Verdugo excelled in the Red Sox lineup. Although Boston dealt with injuries and inconsistency, Verdugo was able to showcase his power and ability to get on base.
Furthermore, Verdugo improved as the season went on. After hitting .273 in July, he hit .313 in August and September. On a Red Sox team that struggled as the season progressed, Verdugo only got better. Regardless of where the Red Sox were in the standings, Verdugo showed up every game, ready to compete.
Additionally, Verdugo was one of the Red Sox best players defensively. The former second-round pick only committed four errors and was a human highlight reel in the outfield. He also recorded seven assists, which was tied for the most in baseball. While the Arizona native saw time at all three outfield positions, he did not commit an error in centerfield.
Verdugo’s impressive play landed him in elite company. The Red Sox outfielder finished twelfth in the AL MVP vote and led the Red Sox in WAR. On the Shedders list of the best centerfielders in baseball, which is put together by MLB’s research team, Verdugo was number four. Verdugo also has the fourth-highest WAR among centerfielders over the past two seasons. ( Jamie Gatlin - January 17, 2021)
June 2014: The Dodgers selected Alex in the second round, out of Sahuaro High School in Tucson, AZ. The club drafted him as an outfielder, even though Verdugo was viewed by many clubs as a lefthanded pitcher. And Verdugo signed for $914,600, via scout Dustin Yount. (Gurnick - mlb.com - 6/5/14) (Editor's note: In 2013, Yount signed another Arizona high school outfielder, Cody Bellinger.)
Feb 9, 2020: In a three-team blockbuster trade, the Red Sox got OF Alex Verdugo, SS Jeter Downs and C Connnor Wong from the Dodgers. The Dodgers get OF Mookie Betts, LHP David Price and cash from the Red Sox; and from the Twins RHP Brusder Graterol, OF Luke Raley, and the Twins' 67th pick from the 2020 draft. The Twins get RHP Kenta Maeda, a minor leaguer, and cash from the Dodgers.
- March 10, 2020: Alex signed a one-year contract with the Red Sox for $601,500.
Verdugo has a sweet lefthanded stroke from good bat speed. He drives balls into the gap and has the strength to go over the fence. He is the purest hitter in the Dodgers’ system with a simple, balanced swing. He generates hard line drives to all fields and is extremely patient, recording nearly as many walks (86) as strikeouts (97) over the last two years—2017 and 2018.
Verdugo’s average home run power is mostly to his pull side, but he can drive the ball hard the other way, too. He stays dialed in at the plate. (Spring, 2019)
Alex still has some unorthodox elements to his swing but good plate coverage thanks to superb hand-eye coordination. He has a level, line-drive stroke. He sets up with his hands close to his body and stays inside the ball well, shooting line drives to all fields. Verdugo recognizes off-speed pitches well and doesn’t chase much.
He has 60 for his hit tool, and 45 or 50 power, on the 20-80 scouting scale.
In 2017, in Triple-A, Verdugo walked more often than he struck out. He has a strong build and good bat speed, though his swing lacks leverage for big power, and he projects to hit 15-20 home runs. (Spring, 2018)
“I think what’s most impressive with Alex is he’s starting to understand when to take his shot at the plate and go for it a little bit,” Dodgers farm director Brandon Gomes said in July 2018. “We know the bat-to-ball skills are elite . . . I think that’s been the most impressive part—holding the elite control of the strike zone and beginning to impact the baseball more.”
In 2015, Alex added a little leg kick to his swing in an attempt to hit for more power. He worked with former big league outfielder Jay Gibbons with the Great Lakes Loons (MWL).
For Verdugo, the leg kick seemed like a solution, but bigger strides are tricky beasts for many hitters. Some, like Alex Rodriguez, can use the step as a timing mechanism to generate extra momentum in their swing, and thus more power. But it's a high-risk move, and not every athlete is well served by the maneuver. For example, Cubs infielder Javier Baez has had the Minors' most discussed leg kick during his pro career but recently began occasionally ditching the kick with promising results before an injury put his possible resurrection on hold.
Verdugo didn't go crazy with the leg lift but still created a distracting amount of movement as compared to his old swing. You can see the move in the video below, with Verdugo's right leg hovering a few inches off the ground as he loads his hands. The maneuver left all his weight on his back leg and created too much head movement, causing him to see the ball worse. Now, he's back to a toe tap trigger.
As it turned out, Verdugo was not one of the special few who is well served by a leg kick. That was hard for him to swallow, but ditching it has given him the best chance to still becoming something special.
"We went through a lot of video of me from last year,” Verdugo said. “We kind of got to a happy medium of me doing a toe tap. From there, I saw the ball better. Everything just kind of fell in.”
- Alex rarely strikes out, staying under control at the plate, with a good eye. He just doesn't swing at bad pitches.
Verdugo has a simple, repeatable swing with good bat speed and a mature approach. He makes consistent contact, recognizes breaking pitches and doesn’t chase much out of the zone, which makes him a threat to hit for a high average and draw plenty of walks.
Alex has good balance and occasional power, working the gaps and hitting line drives to all fields.
Heading into the 2014 draft, most scouting reports listed Verdugo as a pitcher. But L.A. sees him as a lefty hitting outfielder, which is what Alex wanted.
"For me, it was always hitting. I loved pitching and I loved hitting—but hitting was always better to me.”
Verdugo brings a disciplined approach to the plate and above-average speed to the base-paths and understands why many teams saw greater potential in his arm.
“I think they were more thinking—lefthander, mid-90s,” Verdugo said. “So I have the arm strength and I have the athletic build. I think (teams) were just (viewing me) more (as a) power arm, an athletic lefty.
“Really, it’s probably the smarter decision—the easier decision—because with hitting you’re really trying to do the hardest thing out there.
“I’ve worked extremely hard my whole life on hitting and pitching. To me, hitting has always been more fun. I think I can make it as a hitter," Verdugo said.
August 26, 2015: Verdugo hit for the cycle for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (CAL).
By the end of the 2015 season, Alex was swinging easier with the bat whipping through the zone and he's creating leverage, whereas before, he was rolling over. He's going to hit for power. He has a nice swing with leverage for plenty of power.
Verdugo’s current swing (2016) is a culmination of several modifications he’s made during his career. He began putting his toe on the ground during his rookie season and then added a leg kick the next year in an attempt to hit with more power. The leg kick caused him to drift forward and move his head too much, limiting his ability to see the ball, but he finally was able to settle on a combination that worked for him this season.
“I combined the leg kick with just doing a toe tap,” Alex said. “It ended up working really well. I’ve stuck with it since and haven’t looked back.”
2018 Season: Alex's batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home run rate, and stolen base rate all rose. And he also performed better in three big league callups.
One of the youngest position players in Triple-A once again, he continued to be one of the Pacific Coast League’s best hitters. He led the circuit in batting average for much of the second half until an August slump dropped his final line to .329/.391/.472 with 10 home runs in 91 games.
Increased strength and better pitch selection were two catalysts behind Verdugo’s offensive improvement, and he began showing opposite-field power. He took a patient approach, covered all areas of the plate and drove all types of pitches on a line with a smooth, level swing.
“He was one of the more polished hitters I’ve seen,” Fresno manager Rodney Linares said. (Kyle Glaser - Baseball America - 10/19/2018)
Jan. 2019 scouting report on Verdugo from MLB Pipeline: One of the best pure hitting prospects in baseball, Verdugo recognizes pitches and controls the strike zone better than most players his age. He uses the whole field, repeatedly barreling balls with a quick lefthanded stroke geared for line drives. Though he homered just 7 times in 132 games last season, his hitting ability, bat speed, and strength should translate into average power if he adds some loft to his swing.
April 17, 2019: With the Dodgers’ lineup missing Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner as they nursed bruises, Verdugo drove in three runs and Joc Pederson added another two-run homer in a 6-1 win over the Reds.
At age 23, Verdugo is in what will be his first full season. He’s batting .375 with three homers, 12 RBIs and a 1.115 OPS, and he’s started only seven games because he’s behind Bellinger, Pederson, A.J. Pollock, and Chris Taylor on the outfield depth chart. He’s making the biggest adjustment a young player must make: accepting a part-time role when you have been, and think you should be, a full-time player.
“Control what I can control,” said Verdugo, who had the first three-hit game of his career. “This is where you want to be. I’m playing for the Dodgers, one of the greatest teams of all time. I love this city, love the fan base, love everything here. It’s a dream come true.
“I see myself playing every day. Whether this year, next year, I don’t care. I see myself as an everyday player, and I carry myself that way. There’s no frustrations with it right now. We got this thing where we’re all-in on this team, on this journey to the World Series. So right now, I start sporadically.” (K Gurnick - MLB.com - April 17, 2019)
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Alex had a .290 career batting average with 20 home runs and 64 RBI in 644 at-bats in the Majors.
Alex plays a fairly decent center field and has average speed, which plays up with his good jumps and positioning.
With an above-average and accurate arm, Verdugo could also handle a corner-outfield position. He threw 92 mph in high school, so he's strong.
He gets an 80 grade for his arm. It is both strong and very, very accurate. But his outfield defense gets only a grade of 45 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
The December 2018 scouting report on Verdugo from MLB Pipeline: As good as he is in the batter’s box, Verdugo’s best tool actually is his plus-plus arm. Despite average speed, he has spent much of his pro career in center field, where his instincts help him get the job done. Scouts are split on whether he can handle center on a daily basis in the Majors, but no one doubts that his arm would play in right.
Verdugo stays dialed in at the plate, but an indifferent attitude affects the rest of his game. He has average speed and gets good jumps in right field when he’s focused. But often he isn’t focused . . . and he lets balls drop that shouldn’t. (Spring, 2019)
- April 18: 2019: Down by three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Milwaukee’s Hernan Perez tried to score from second base on Lorenzo Cain’s two-out single. Alex Verdugo used his laser arm to gun down Perez and help the Dodgers hang on for a 3-1 win.
"Hopefully in the future they’ll learn from it,” said Verdugo, whose throw was clocked by Statcast at 98.4 mph, matching Washington’s Michael Taylor for fastest outfield assist this year.
“I’m very proud of my defense,” said Verdugo. “For me, throwing somebody out is right up there with hitting a home run.” (K Gurnick - MLB.com - April 18, 2019)
The Red Sox have two outfielders with certifiable cannons for arms in Jackie Bradley Jr and Alex. Verdugo, who was a pitcher in high school, made a 98.4 mph throw for the Dodgers on April 18 of last season. It will be interesting to see how many baserunners try to run on Verdugo. Clearly, they will be doing so at their own risk. -- Browne - mlb.com - 5/29/2020)
Alex has average speed.
- Verdugo has an indifferent way of playing the game. His slow motor shows up on the bases, frustrating teammates and coaches alike.
May 31, 2016: Verdugo was on the D.L.
Aug 5, 2019: Verdugo was scratched from the lineup for the second time in less than a week with recurring lower back tightness.
“I definitely don’t think it’s severe,” manager Dave Roberts said of Verdugo’s injury. “But where we’re at, putting him at jeopardy at all to make it a longer issue, we’re just trying to guard against that. He came in and felt good, but it didn’t loosen up the way he wanted it to.”
Aug 6-Sept 30, 2019: Alex was on the IL with right oblique strain.
Sept 4, 2019: Lingering back stiffness has forced the Dodgers to abort outfielder Alex Verdugo’s rehab assignment with Class A Ogden and send him back to their Camelback Ranch training complex in Arizona.
“It was more of the back couldn’t get loose. Right now, we’re in a holding pattern,” said Roberts. “Unlikely he joins us in Baltimore [next week]. There’s still time for him to finish out the season. The oblique is in good shape, but the back has been lingering.” Roberts said there currently is no concern whether Verdugo will be ready for October.
Jan 3, 2020: Verdugo continues to rehab, he has not resumed any baseball activities. The outfielder said his “goal” is to be ready for Opening Day, certainly leaving open the possibility that he won’t. The Dodgers have been vague about Verdugo’s specific diagnosis, which has included lower back soreness and a right oblique strain.
“Rehab is going good,” Verdugo said. “It’s just really about stacking together really good days. Keep testing it, incorporating more workouts in my routine. It’s about how I recover and come back the next day. If I’m sore, what am I feeling? We’re on a good pace right now with what we’re trying to do.”
Feb 15, 2020: Imaging taken in September 2019 revealed an L5 stress fracture in his back and the 23-year-old outfielder also acknowledged that he is likely to miss 2020 Opening Day.
Feb 25, 2020: Though it would be a surprise for Verdugo to return from the stress fracture in his back in time for Opening Day, the Red Sox anticipate being able to see their new acquisition perform in Spring Training games.
“I would say that we start getting into the middle of March, he’s got a chance to play some games,” said interim manager Ron Roenicke. “I think he does, yeah, depending on how fast he comes along with his swinging. He’s doing really well. We just haven’t asked him to swing a bat yet.”
March 7, 2020: Verdugo is recovering from a stress fracture in his back. The wait continues, because Verdugo had still not picked up a bat as. Roenicke could not venture to guess a date when Verdugo might be ready to play in a game, because that fundamental, bat-swinging step had not yet been taken.
"We're just not there yet," Roenicke said.
It was assumed from the start of camp that Verdugo would be iffy for Opening Day because of the process of letting the bone heal and then building up the muscles surrounding that area of the lower back. The question is how deep into the regular season his return process will take.
April 14, 2020: Interim manager Ron Roenicke didn’t rule out Verdugo being able to start the season on the active roster, depending on when that is.
“I think by the time we get back and train again, if we’re going to be able to do it, I would think he’s going to be able to fit in along with the other guys and maybe be ready for us,” Roenicke said in a Zoom call with reporters. “He is swinging and doing all the things he needs to do,” Roenicke said. “He can take full swings, he can run fine, his throwing was really getting good.”