As the Los Angeles Dodgers have graduated the likes of Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Julio Urias and Walker Buehler over recent seasons, it’s left Alex Verdugo as the organization’s top-rated prospect.
Despite his talent and impressive showing with Triple-A Oklahoma City over the past two seasons, Verdugo’s time with the Dodgers has been intermittent. With the club boasting a bevy of outfielders, Verdugo made his MLB debut in 2017 but appeared in just 15 games.
That increased to 37 games with the Dodgers last season. He reported to Spring Training this year widely expected to take a step forward, but without much assurances that would be the case.
However, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has now provided some, acknowledging Verdugo is on track to be part of the 2019 Opening Day roster, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“Right now, as it stands, it looks that way, but nothing is set,” Roberts said when asked if it appeared Verdugo would make the club. “He’s still got to go out and play. The way we use our roster, there will be opportunities. His versatility in the outfield, the left-handed bat, the way he conducts an at-bat, plays in a lot of different ways. The way he hangs in there against left-handers, he’s a very well-rounded ballplayer.”
Roberts has regularly praised Verdugo, most recently touting the young outfielder as being a Major-League talent. Last December, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Verdugo has a ceiling that is ‘higher than most’ other prospects.
That type of talent and upside led to teams coveting Verdugo in trade talks over the winter. Although the Dodgers were said to generally be against moving the 22-year-old, they reportedly were willing to do so in a deal with the Cleveland Indians for Corey Kluber.
That of course never came to fruition, and now Verdugo figures to compete with Joc Pederson for a starting role in left field or to essentially be the fourth outfielder on the active roster.