Considered the top prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization entering the 2019 season, there was nothing left for Alex Verdugo to prove at Triple-A Oklahoma City. And although expected to begin the season in the Majors, it was not necessarily a guarantee.
That changed when Brad Miller, who was in the midst of a breakout Spring Training, opted out of his Minor League contract and became a free agent. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts shortly after confirmed Verdugo was a lock to make the Opening Day roster.
With that came a new jersey number, with Verdugo selecting 27 because of special meaning, and adjusting to life as a fourth outfielder rather than an everyday player. To his credit, Verdugo has acclimated himself well and made regular contributions.
The majority of that has come at the plate, but on Thursday night he delivered for the Dodgers by throwing a 98 mph strike to home plate to prevent Hernan Perez from scoring and end the eighth inning with a 3-0 lead intact.
Following the win, Verdugo discussed the excitement and satisfaction he takes in making plays in the field, via SportsNet LA:
“I’m very proud of my defense. I really take it serious, so anytime I can go out there and help the pitchers out, keep a zero on the board, is huge. Especially in that situation, in the eighth (inning), Yelich is coming up, potential tying run if there’s two runners on, so just to help out the team and show off the arm a little bit was awesome. … For me, throwing somebody out is up there with hitting a home run. Defensively, I take a lot of pride in my arm and work I do out there.”
The assist was Verdugo’s second this season and third of his young Major League career. Each of his eight starts (10 games) this season have come in right field, though Verdugo has also spent time in left field (three games) and center (one).
Roberts recently praised Verdugo for making an impact in whatever opportunities he’s been given and alluded to more starts lying ahead.