With another strong season at Triple-A Oklahoma City in the books, Alex Verdugo reported for Spring Training seemingly poised to make the Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Day roster for the 2019 season.
But despite his standing as one of the organization’s top prospects and regular praise from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts of being an MLB-caliber player, Verdugo was hardly guaranteed to begin the season in the Majors.
Though as Roberts began to announce members of the team’s Opening Day starting rotation and bullpen, he similarly named Verdugo the roster.
Naturally, that was a significant moment for the 22-year-old, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com
“Like a dream come true,” said Verdugo. “Pretty good news, for sure.”
While Verdugo may have looked likely to make the Dodgers roster at the start of Spring Training, there was a push by Brad Miller. Though, the young outfielder claimed to be unaware of any possible competition, according to Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“I didn’t even know, honestly, that it was potentially between us,” Verdugo said. “I didn’t even know so I wasn’t concerned at all. He’s a great guy, great athlete, great baseball player. But I just go out there every day with my approach, my mindset, and just do what I can control, not what he can.”
Rather than await a decision from the Dodgers or potentially begin the season with Oklahoma City, Miller elected to opt out of his Minor League contract and become a free agent. He batted .385/.429/.615 with two home runs and three RBI in 12 Cactus League games.
As for Verdugo, he’s set to serve as the Dodgers’ fourth outfielder and left-handed pinch-hit option off the bench. He could potentially usurp Joc Pederson, who is tracking to be platooned with Chris Taylor in left field.