Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Tag: Alex Verdugo (Page 1 of 2)

Uneasy lies the head that wears a Dodger cap

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Hi ho, it’s February. Dodger pitchers and catchers and other eager beavers are scheduled to report to Camelback Ranch in eight days. The first full squad workout comes two weeks from Tuesday.

Vibe: unsettled.

Forecast: angsty.

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Ten games in, Manny Machado already boosting Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Manny Machado’s first 50 plate appearances as a Dodger are now in the books: .400 on-base percentage, .442 slugging percentage. During that time, the Dodgers went 6-4 on a road trip against three playoff contenders, a trip that you could have called a complete success had they won the 16-inning game at Philadelphia and taken all three series, if you’re into sports and also into video games you could also try games like WoW Classic which is a great choice for this and you can also get gold if you read this guide here.

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Toles, Verdugo offer ready remedies for Puig injury

Josh Barber/Los Angeles Dodgers

It’s not as if the Dodgers must call up an outfielder if, as expected, Yasiel Puig goes on the disabled list with an oblique strain suffered Sunday. In addition to Matt Kemp and Joc Pederson, they have three infielders who play outfield in Chris Taylor, Kiké Hernandez and Cody Bellinger, and relocating Bellinger to center (with Kemp in right) would open up time for Max Muncy to play first base and give him a break from learning second base on the job.

But moving an infielder to the outfield would also force more playing time at second base for the likes of struggling Logan Forsythe (1 for 27 with two walks and 11 strikeouts since June 22) and Chase Utley, whereas you could hardly ask for better outfield candidates for the Dodgers to import from Oklahoma City than Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo.

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With or without Matt Kemp, Dodgers stacked in left field

If the Dodgers had nothing more than a platoon of Kiké Hernández and Joc Pederson entering the season, I’d be fine with the Dodgers in left field.

In a typical Dodger batting order, left field might basically be the No. 7 spot. If Logan Forsythe bounced back from his 2017 struggles at the plate, the left fielder could bat as low as eighth.

Chris Taylor, CF
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Cody Bellinger, 1B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Austin Barnes/Yasmani Grandal, C
Logan Forsythe, 2B

You don’t want left field to be a black hole in the lineup — certainly, by the time the postseason race heats up, you don’t want any black holes in the lineup. But entering the season, the Dodgers are in fine shape with Hernández, who in his career has an .883 OPS with 19 homers in 382 at-bats against left-handed pitching, and Pederson, who has OPSed .823 against righties with 54 homers in 953 at-bats (23 homers per 400 at-bats).

Each player has gone through an extended slump in his career, but both recalibrated by last October — in the glare of the postseason, no less. And, both Hernández and Pederson will be 26 years old for most of the season. It might seem like they’ve been around for a while, but they’re just entering prime time.

In particular, Pederson is a buy-low candidate. His contact rate has improved each of the past three years. His on-base percentage was a career-worst .331 in 2017, but his batting average on balls in play (.241) was the unluckiest of his three full seasons in the majors. In his poorest year, Pederson’s OBP was only .023 behind Chris Taylor in Taylor’s best year.

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Brewers make splash, but Dodgers already swimming

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

The signings of Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner still count. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

If this offseason, the Dodgers followed up their National League pennant by signing free agents Rich Hill through 2019, Justin Turner through 2020 and Kenley Jansen through 2021 (not to mention adding a 39-homer-hitting first baseman in the process), everyone would be saying it was a huge haul.

That’s not an argument to stand pat for the sake of standing pat — nor is it to deny that a trade for a certain Miami outfielder had its appeal — but don’t think less of the Dodgers because they got a big part of their homework done a year ago.

And I have to say, I like the mix the Dodgers have for their outfield right now. Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor, Joc Pederson, Kiké Hernández, Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo all have considerable upside, with only Taylor arguably playing over his head in 2017.

Pederson, who won’t turn 26 until April, might well have had the same growth experience last summer that Puig had in 2016. Through the end of July, Pederson had a .359 on-base percentage, .481 slugging percentage and .840 OPS with a career-low strikeout rate, statistics that got lost in the shuffle when he hit the August skids. Then he came back and delivered an 1.186 OPS in 26 playoff plate appearances.

As an alternative platoon partner to Hernández, Verdugo had a .389 on-base percentage for Triple-A Oklahoma City, ninth in the Pacific Coast League (despite being its second youngest player), walked more than he struck out and boasts a plus arm. And before he ripped his knee ligament trying to preserve a Julio Urías no-hitter in April, Toles was tied for the Dodger team lead with five homers.

All due credit to Milwaukee, which led the NL Central at the All-Star Break and finished with 86 wins last year. By acquiring Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain in one afternoon, the Brewers have definitely made their 2018 a lot more interesting.

But it’s not nothing that the Dodgers are adding Verdugo and Toles to an outfield that, following Toles’ injury, won 95 games without them. In adjusted OPS last year, the Dodgers finished second in the NL (behind now-depleted Miami) with an offense whose two oldest starters were only 30 and 32. You always look to improve, but they remain in good shape.

Anderson thrives, Oklahoma City stays alive in PCL

By Jon Weisman

After Brett Anderson pitched five strong innings, Triple-A Oklahoma City scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to rally for a 4-2 victory over El Paso in Game 3 of the Pacific Coast League finals.

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De Jong named Texas League Pitcher of the Year

Rich Crimi/Tulsa Drillers

Rich Crimi/Tulsa Drillers

By Jon Weisman

Double-A Tulsa right-hander Chase De Jong was named Pitcher of the Year in the Texas League, which also placed second baseman Willie Calhoun and outfielder Alex Verdugo on its All-Star Team.

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Six Dodgers in Baseball America Top 100 update

Cody Bellinger (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Despite this year’s promotions of Corey Seager and Julio Urias and the debut of American rookie Kenta Maeda, Baseball America included six Dodgers in its Midseason Top 100 Prospects update.

Cody Bellinger (24), Jose De Leon (25), Alex Verdugo (44), Grant Holmes (60), Frankie Montas (82) and Willie Calhoun (98) were the Dodgers listed.

By comparison, the season-opening 2016 Baseball America 100 had Seager (1), Urías (4), De Leon (23), Maeda (50), Bellinger (54), Holmes (72) and Verdugo (100).

The new list does not include anyone taken in the 2016 draft or signed internationally this month.


Farm Fresh: Double-A Tulsa boasts nine Texas League All-Stars

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By Jon Weisman

No fewer than nine players from Double-A Tulsa have been invited to the Texas League All-Star Game, June 28 at Springfield, Missouri.

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Justin Turner warming up as Mets come to town

San Diego Padres vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Mets at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kiké Hernandez, LF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Justin Turner, 3B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Trayce Thompson, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Charlie Culberson, SS
Scott Kazmir, P

By Jon Weisman

When Justin Turner hit his first homer of 2016 on Saturday, it capped his best four-game stretch of the season.

Turner went 6 for 16 with two doubles, two walks and the homer, raising his OPS from .631 to .714. Though Turner went 0 for 3 with a walk Sunday, Dave Roberts didn’t think the uptick in numbers was a fluke.

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In case you missed it: Bolsinger won’t start opening week

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By Jon Weisman

Before tonight’s 3-1 loss to Kansas City, Andrew Friedman confirmed suspicions that Mike Bolsinger’s oblique injury would knock him off track for an opening-week start.

Carlos Frias, Zach Lee and Brandon Beachy are the leading possibilities for making that start on April 8, though Julio Urias conspiracy theorists will note that the teenage lefty threw three “impressive” innings in a minor-league game, according to Ken Gurnick of

What else can I tell you?

  • Pedro Baez struck out all four batters he faced, giving him 11 this spring against three walks. Half of Baez’s 22 outs have been whiffs.
  • Alex Verdugo didn’t enter the game until the bottom of the seventh – and doesn’t turn 20 until May 15 – but still made an impression. In the bottom of the eighth, he made a sliding stop of a double to the gap and threw to second baseman Charlie Culberson, who fired home to catcher Austin Barnes for an out. Verdugo followed that with a double in the top of the ninth.
  • Joc Pederson had a streak of 12 straight plate appearances with a hit or strikeout end when he grounded out to third in the fourth inning. Pederson, who also lost a six-game hitting streak tonight, was 5 for 12 with seven strikeouts in that little run.
  • Louis Coleman allowed his third hit of March but struck out his 10th batter while completing his seventh scoreless inning. He hasn’t walked anyone.
  • Chris Young held the Dodgers hitless for 4 1/3 innings, but was still charged with a run. Young walked his last batter, Rob Segedin, and reliever Scott Alexander gave up an RBI double to his first batter, speedy Rico Noel.
  • Four Dodgers played complete games tonight: Segedin at first, Noel in right, Kiké Hernandez at short and Trayce Thompson in left field.

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  • Alex Wood threw 62 pitches in a four-inning stint. Above, Rick Honeycutt talks about Wood.
  • Clayton Kershaw not only came out of a car accident unscathed, he posed for pictures with the pair who collided with him. Doug Padilla of has more.

Whatever you think of the Dodgers’ luck right now, there’s this: Clayton Kershaw came out of a car accident unscathed.

In case you missed it: Ethier leadoff experiment, step one

Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers

Matthew Mesa/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

In discussing potential Dodger leadoff hitters last week, I hesitated to include Andre Ethier because he had never done so in a regular-season game – but I decided to do so anyway, because against right-handers, it makes sense.

Sure enough, Ethier grabbed a leadoff spot in today’s 7-3 Dodger victory over Colorado, walking and singling in his first two at-bats.

Dave Roberts told reporters today that Ethier could bat leadoff when the matchup is favorable.

What else can I tell you?

  • Hyun-Jin Ryu is not going to pitch in Cactus League play and is doubtful to return to Major League action before June, Dave Roberts said today.
  • Zach Lee retired the first eight batters he faced in a 3 1/3-inning performance, allowing a run on four baserunners with one strikeout.
  • Julio Urias gave up a run in his first inning of relief, but retired the final four batters in his two-inning outing.
  • In his second Cactus League game, Justin Turner went 1 for 3 with an error.
  • Elian Herrera and Trayce Thompson both scored on the same wild pitch in the eighth inning.
  • Some interesting data from Tony Blengino at Fangraphs supports a big 2016 season for Yasmani Grandal. In his first Cactus League game since March 9, Grandal singled and walked.
  • Outfield prospect Alex Verdugo did a Q&A with Jim Callis of
  • Dustin Nosler of Dodgers Digest rated Dodger minor leaguers according to best tools.
  • Frank Sinatra Jr., who sang the national anthem at Dodger Stadium several times, most recently in September as part of the centennial celebration of his father, has passed away at age 72. Tommy Lasorda expressed his sadness this evening. “Like his father, Frank Jr. brought us much joy with his unbelievable musical talent,” Lasorda said. “Last season, Frank Jr. sang the national anthem at Dodger Stadium on my birthday. What a voice! Frank Jr. was a great and lovely family man. He will be missed dearly.”
  • For a brief moment this morning, it looked like Dodger Stadium was going the Calvinball route …

Seven Dodger prospects in ESPN’s top 100

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By Jon Weisman

ESPN prospect analyst Keith Law ranked the Dodger farm system second in MLB, thanks in no small part to the appearance of seven prospects in his top 100 list that was released today.

As has been their custom, Corey Seager and Julio Urias landed in Law’s top five, with Seager claiming the top spot previously held by Minnesota’s Byron Buxton. They are the only Dodgers in Law’s top 50. However, there are five in the next half-hundred: Alex Verdugo (51), Jose De Leon (60), Grant Holmes (71), Yusniel Diaz (79), the Cuban emigré whose signing hasn’t been officially announced by the Dodgers, and Cody Bellinger (92).

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New and familiar faces on Baseball America’s top 10 Dodger prospects for ’16

top 10

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Baseball America’s annual ranking of Dodger prospects actually comes early this year — the 2015 rankings were published 10 months ago — and comes with five names that weren’t on the preseason 2015 list.

Joc Pederson graduated from prospect status, but Corey Seager remains a rookie despite his impressive September debut, allowing the Dodger infielder a second consecutive year in the No. 1 slot. Julio Urias moves up a spot accordingly to No. 2, while right-hadner Jose De Leon leapfrogs into the No. 3 spot.

The top newcomer on this year’s list is infielder Jose Peraza, acquired from Atlanta in the big July 30 deal. “Peraza lacks a high ceiling,” Baseball America’s Ben Badler writes, “but his bat-to-ball skills and wheels should make him a steady player in the middle of the diamond.” In the list of best tools in the Dodger minor leagues, Peraza is called the organization’s top athlete.

Making the biggest leap internally is first baseman-outfielder Cody Bellinger, who skipped Great Lakes after hitting three homers with Rookie League Ogden in 2014 and hit 30 for High-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2015. The 20-year-old is also labeled the best power hitter in the system.

“Bellinger used to gear his swing for line drives, but he made a mechanical adjustment in 2015 to put his body in a better position to create torque,” Badler wrote in his analysis. “Toward the end of 2015, he began to study heat maps to understand his own strengths and weaknesses, and he condensed his trigger slightly.”

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Dodger minor league report No. 18: Winning time for Julio Urias

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By Jon Weisman

Because of the careful way the Dodgers have controlled his innings at a young age, 19-year-old Julio Urias only had five wins in his first 50 career starts. Thankfully, no one judged him on that.

For the record, Urias has picked up career victories No. 6 and No. 7 in the past two weeks, most recently with six innings of one-run ball in Double-A Tulsa’s 2-1 victory Wednesday over Frisco.

Urias struck out eight and allowed six baserunners in a slender 81 pitches. In August, Urias has a 2.53 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with 22 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings, and he hasn’t allowed a home run. For the season in Double-A, Urias has a 3.03 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with 71 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings.

For comparison, at age 19 with Double-A San Antonio, Fernando Valenzuela had a 3.10 ERA and 1.30 WHIP with 162 strikeouts in 174 innings. In a much different era, Valenzuela completed 11 of his 25 starts in 1980 before his callup to the Dodgers, for whom he pitched 17 2/3 innings in relief without allowing an earned run, striking out 16.

Now, let’s take our tour of the system …

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