Player: Alex Verdugo
Drafted by: Los Angeles Dodgers
DOB: 5/15/1996 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6'1", 190 pounds
School: Sahuaro (Arizona) HS
College Commitment: Arizona State
It's rare to find a two-way player who can get drafted as either a position player or pitcher without sacrificing much potential, but Alex Verdugo is a special talent who bucks a lot of traditional trends.
Of course, he has proved this spring that it's hard to take him off the mound. He's a left-handed starter with three average or better pitches, a good command profile and athleticism to pitch in the middle of a rotation.
There's been nothing wrong with his offensive performance this season either, with an OPS over 1.500, but the upside on the mound is special. He was also named MVP of the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game with a double and a scoreless inning on the mound.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Verdugo doesn't have the best pitcher's frame at 6'1" but makes up for the lack of height with a high three-quarters release that creates natural movement on the fastball; great athlete, as you would expect from a two-way player, who repeats his mechanics; has a compact delivery and generates good push from his lower half to generate velocity.
While it's not an overpowering heater, sitting 88-91 mph, Verdugo has a deceptive fastball thanks to his arm action; also does a good job of keeping the ball down, given his size; pitching full time could add a full grade to the pitch, though that's a long way off.
Not pitching full time has left his off-speed stuff in a state of flux; only way to get a feel for something is to constantly throw it; curveball will flash above-average with tight spin and good depth, but the shape isn't consistent right now.
Speaking of feel for pitches, the changeup is entirely a feel offering; will have a lot of work to do, but there's a lot of potential in the pitch; arm speed is terrific, fooling hitters into committing early and generating weak contact; also good life on the pitch as it tumbles across the plate.
Verdugo is effective at throwing strikes right now, given his dual roles, but there's a lot of work that needs to be done; everything starts with the fastball, which he shows solid control over; can get away with some things in the lower levels because of the movement and deception in the delivery; when he gets a better feel for the off-speed stuff, you will really see the control take off.
If the control has a long way to go, the command is even farther away; breaking ball is too often thrown in the dirt or released too early so it crosses the plate about head high; changeup, while there is fade, will die before getting to the plate; ability to throw the fastball with movement down in the zone will be instrumental in helping develop command of the other pitches.
MLB Player Comparison: Wandy Rodriguez
While not a sexy comparison right now, Wandy Rodriguez was an undersized left-hander with three average or better pitches at his peak and four consecutive seasons worth at least 2.5 WAR.
Verdugo's fastball has better velocity, but the breaking ball and changeup are comparable offerings. He also has to battle the stigma of being short, though his athleticism and repeatable mechanics help the stuff play up.
Projection: No. 3 starter in first-division rotation
MLB ETA: 2018
Chances of Signing: 85 percent
Even though Verdugo isn't a first-round talent, it's easy to see why a team would go over slot to sign a player like him because of his versatility. If you want to try him in the outfield, there's value in that. If you want to immediately put him in the rotation, you're going to get a mid-rotation starter.