LOS ANGELES -- Alex Verdugo's September callup was a wakeup call for the Dodgers outfielder, who checked in as the No. 10 outfield prospect in the game as ranked by MLB Pipeline."Just to see them play, to see the work ethic, that's what I took from it," Verdugo said of
LOS ANGELES -- Alex Verdugo's September callup was a wakeup call for the Dodgers outfielder, who checked in as the No. 10 outfield prospect in the game as ranked by MLB Pipeline.
"Just to see them play, to see the work ethic, that's what I took from it," Verdugo said of his 15-game cameo, during which he hit just .174. "It's not a game up here. Everybody handles their business, makes sure they're ready to fight for the guy next to him."
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With Yasiel Puig in right field and Chris Taylor in center, Verdugo will compete with Enrique Hernandez, Joc Pederson, Alvin Toles, Trayce Thompson and possibly Matt Kemp for an outfield roster spot in Spring Training.
The 21-year-old Verdugo, the No. 2-ranked prospect in the Dodgers system, said he has cleaned up his approach to nutrition during the winter, adding vegetables and healthier proteins. He said he's hoping to gain strength and power, citing Taylor's power emergence in 2017 as an example of "getting an opportunity and running with it."
Here's MLB Pipeline's scouting report on Verdugo: "One of the best pure hitting prospects in baseball, Verdugo recognizes pitches and controls the strike zone better than most players his age. He uses the whole field, repeatedly barreling balls with a quick left-handed stroke geared for line drives. Though he homered just seven times in 132 games last season, his hitting ability, bat speed and strength should translate into average power if he adds some loft to his swing.
"As good as he is in the batter's box, Verdugo's best tool actually is his plus-plus arm. Despite average speed, he has spent much of his pro career in center field, where his instincts help him get the job done. Scouts are split on whether he can handle center on a daily basis in the Majors, but no one doubts that his arm would play in right."
Verdugo said he has a better idea of what to expect after a September in the big leagues.
"I was up there for a month. I got to see the game, interact with the players," he said. "Even in the Minor Leagues, I'd be watching the Dodgers and thinking, wow, look at them play. That's amazing. Now it's more, like, what can I do to stay? Now I've got to prove myself."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.