Dustin May Offers Both Stuff And Intangibles
For outfielder Alex Verdugo, his 2018 season looked a lot like his 2017 season.
One of the youngest position players in Triple-A once again, he continued to be one of the Pacific Coast League's best hitters. He led the circuit in batting average for much of the second half until an August slump dropped his final line to .329/.391/.472 with 10 home runs in 91 games. He hit .314 at Oklahoma City last year.
Dodgers officials continue to call Verdugo "big league ready.” The 22-year-old received more big league time in 2018 but spent most of the summer "putting up another huge offensive season,” according to farm director Brandon Gomes.
"There’s an advanced (hitting) approach for a player his age. Solid defense, a plus arm. I think on top of that, you like the way he runs the bases . . . I think he’s the complete package.”
It’s a package that should be in the big leagues on a permanent basis next year.
Righthander Dustin May’s name came up a lot in July as the Dodgers pursued trades at the July 31 deadline. But he finished the season where he started: in the Dodgers’ system.
The 21-year-old May, a 2016 third-round pick out of high school, had "a tremendous year,” Gomes said, while progressing from high Class A Rancho Cucamonga to Double-A Tulsa. He went a combined 9-5, 3.39 with 122 strikeouts and 29 walks in 132.2 innings.
"Dustin had a huge groundball rate,” Gomes said. "He was really developing his cutter and slider over the last couple months . . . There’s a lot of intangibles there to like.”
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The Dodgers chose shortstop Deacon Liput in the 10th round this summer. He starred on the University of Florida’s national championship team in 2017 and went straight from the draft to low Class A Great Lakes, where he impressed Gomes with his ability to immediately spark "that team with his energy.”
Playing both second base and shortstop, Liput hit .280/.332/.446 with five home runs, seven doubles and three triples in 42 games.
"He put up big power numbers in the Midwest League, which is not easy to do,” Gomes said. "There are really good tools there with an advanced understanding of the game coming from a big program like Florida.”
Developing better plate discipline and a more sophisticated approach will be the lefthanded hitter’s next challenge. "He has a hyper-aggressive approach right now,” Gomes said. "That might not be sustainable, but that’s something that comes with experience because his swing is strong.”