After being selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the 2014 Draft and rapidly rising through the Minor League ranks, Alex Verdugo made his MLB debut as a September call-up last season.
He appeared in 15 games, had just four hits in 23 at-bats and endured growing pains both on and off the field. Verdugo overslept and arrived late to the stadium one afternoon, which resulted in Rich Hill having a stern conversation with the outfield prospect.
“Only positives,” said Verdugo on how he views his time with the Dodgers. “I mean, everything I went through, everything that happened, I’ve grown from it. Everything is better. I’m a lot better of a person and teammate from it.
“I think I learned just overall how to carry myself on and off the field and establish a routine.”
Without specifically referencing last year’s incident, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts commended Verdugo for reporting to Spring Training with improved maturation. Included in that was how the 21-year-old handled being among the roster cuts.
While there were strides made off the field, Verdugo focused on improving on it as well. “My goal was to get stronger,” he said. “I want to be a little faster, a little quicker. Hopefully that’s going to translate on the field.”
Now Verdugo is in his second season with Triple-A Oklahoma City. “This year it’s not new anymore. I’ve been here, I’ve played here, I’ve had success. So now let’s repeat it, get back to the big leagues and stay up there.
“Got a taste of it, got to see what the big leagues is like, see the competition. It’s just like everything. The more you’re up there the more comfortable you are.”
And as for the expectations that have been placed on him as the Dodgers’ top position prospect, Verdugo wholeheartedly embraces them. “Pressure is fine,” he said.