Alex Verdugo Just Keeps Hitting
Outfielder Alex Verdugo turned 21 in mid-May and is one of the youngest position players in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. No big deal—he has been one of the youngest players at every stop since the Dodgers made him a second-round pick out of his Tucson high school in 2014.
Verdugo appears to have taken another step forward this season at Oklahoma City, putting him on track to join young stars Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger in Los Angeles before long. Through 68 games, Verdugo hit .344/.413/.466 with three home runs and seven stolen bases. The lefthanded batter ranked among the PCL leaders in average (fifth) and on-base percentage (second), but more impressively for such a young hitter, he had compiled more walks (30) than strikeouts (26).
"We continue to be excited about Alex,” farm director Gabe Kapler said. "He has a chance to be a dynamic major league player. He has a special talent and athleticism, and he has begun to refine it. He’s learning to make in-game adjustments to take advantage of his physicality with more body awareness.”
Biggest Leap Forward
The 27-year-old Font signed with the Rangers out of Venezuela in 2006 but reached the majors only briefly as a reliever in 2012 and 2013. He had Tommy John surgery along the way and spent additional time in the Reds and Blue Jays systems wrapped around two seasons in the independent Can-Am League.
Flashing much better command of his mid-90s fastball, Font was the runaway strikeout leader in the PCL after 15 starts with 112—against 22 walks—to go with a 3.70 ERA. During one stretch he struck out 40 batters in 24 innings.
"Font has made an adjustment to throw his breaking pitches for strikes, and he works on this consistently during his side (sessions),” Kapler said. "He's using his secondary offerings earlier in counts and more frequently, in general, (then he) puts hitters away with his fastball.”
Font's performance has given the Dodgers something to think about.
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"His command has really come on," president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. ". . . He’s pitched extremely well, and he’s very much put himself on our radar.”