As the days count down to Spring Training, Alex Verdugo increasingly looks to play a big role for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2019 season. At minimum, he heads into the new campaign ranked the No. 7 outfield prospect by MLB Pipeline.
Verdugo rose from his No. 10 ranking on the same list prior to last season. One of the consensus top prospects in the team’s farm system, Verdugo now appears slated to start in the Dodgers outfield on Opening Day.
Some even saw the trade of Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Cincinnati Reds in December as a way to clear a spot for Verdugo. Though, Verdugo himself has been mentioned in numerous trade rumors throughout the offseason.
However, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman also praised Verdugo in the midst of those rumors, and obviously has refused to trade the young outfielder thus far.
Baseball Prospectus recently tabbed Verdugo as its 19th overall prospect and top in the Dodgers’ system. Baseball America put him at no. 35 overall and second to catcher Keibert Ruiz in L.A.’s system.
In just 111 career Major League plate appearances spread out over 2016 and 2017, Verdugo is hitting .240/.309/.360 with an 81 OPS+. However, he has nothing left to prove in the Minors. Verdugo batted an astounding .329/.371/.472 for Triple-A Oklahoma City last season and was named to the All-Pacific Coast League team for his efforts.
Several other Dodgers prospects have also popped up on MLB Pipeline’s 2019 lists of top 10 prospects by position. Newly acquired Jeter Downs came in fifth among second basemen and 2016 first-round pick Gavin Lux slotted at ninth among shortstops. Ruiz has the highest ranking on any such list so far, taking third on the list of catchers for the second straight year.
Ruiz, however, has also come up in trade rumors recently as a possible return for Marlins All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.