When the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted outfielder Alex Verdugo in the second round in 2014 out of Sahuaro High School in Arizona, they knew he was a talented player. But how fast Verdugo rose up the prospect rankings in his short professional tenure no one could have known.
After a strong season with Triple-A Oklahoma City this year, Verdugo earned his first Major League call-up in September. Although, he didn’t do much with it, batting just .174/.240/.304 with a home run in 15 games.
This offseason is a big one for the 21-year-old, as he will go into Spring Training looking to secure not only a spot on the Dodgers’ active roster but possibly the starting job in left field.
As it stands, Verdugo figures to compete against the likes of Joc Pederson and Andrew Toles. Pederson slumped through much of 2017, while Toles is recovering from season-ending ACL surgery.
Verdugo seems to know how important this offseason is for him, and in an interview on “Access SportsNet: Dodgers,” via SportsNet LA, said he is prioritizing adding strength this winter:
“The biggest thing for me is to take my offseason seriously and gain weight. I want to put on muscle and come back bigger and stronger. I think with that, physically, on the field, I think I’m ready. I just want to physically get bigger.”
Listed at 6-feet and 205 lbs., power is something that has lacked in Verdugo’s game so far in his career. He hit a career-high 13 home runs in 2016 with Double-A Tulsa, but despite a strong season with OKC in 2017 in which he slashed .314/.389/.436 with 62 RBIs and 67 runs scored, Verdugo left the ballpark just six times.
Verdugo has above-average speed which allows him to play all three outfield positions though, so he will need to tread lightly in his weight gain as he doesn’t want it to come at the expense of his speed.