After back-to-back impressive seasons with Triple-A Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Dodgers top prospect Alex Verdugo had nothing left to prove and was widely projected to begin the 2019 season on the Opening Day roster.
That likelihood was all but cemented when Brad Miller opted out of his Minor League contract and became a free agent. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed Verdugo would begin the season in the Majors shortly after Miller left the organization.
Beyond the usual excitement that comes with making the jump from the Minor Leagues, Verdugo was afforded an opportunity to select a more permanent and aesthetically-pleasing jersey number. He swapped out No. 61 in favor of No. 27.
It of course was last worn by Matt Kemp, but Verdugo explained No. 27 has long carried significant meaning for him, via SportsNet LA:
“My Team Mexico number, my number the past two years in OKC. It’s just one of those things that it was my favorite number growing up. I was either going to be 61 or 27. I was like, ‘I can play with the Dodgers and have 27 on my back? This isn’t OKC anymore, I’ll take the real L.A. Dodgers with 27.’”
In between Kemp’s two stints with the Dodgers, Justin Ruggiano (2015) and James Loney (2006) were the only other players to wear No. 27.
Verdugo has taken his jersey number change and run with it, going 5-for-12 (.417 batting average) with a .417 on-base percentage, .833 slugging, two doubles, one home run and four RBI in eight games (one start).