Alex Verdugo went into the 2019 season as one of the top prospects in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and projected to fill the role of a fourth outfielder after being included on the Opening Day roster.
He steadily took advantage of pinch-hit opportunities and occasional starts, and took off when the Dodgers needed to find a replacement for A.J. Pollock while he recovered from elbow surgery. Like any other rookie, Verdugo has endured some struggles with his successes.
Verdugo’s latest slide had him 4-for-39 with 14 strikeouts in his last 12 games (nine starts) heading into Wednesday’s series finale against the Colorado Rockies. He bounced back with a 4-for-4 effort in the Dodgers’ 5-1 win at Coors Field.
The 23-year-old attributed the slump-busting performance to reverting back to a different mindset, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“I think I just went up there with more of a hitter’s mentality. I just feel like throughout the course of the slump that I had, I was trying to force something to happen. I was kind of trying to force my swing, make a perfect swing, try to get it all over with in one at-bat. In reality, you’ve got to go up there and grind and have a good at-bat.”
The four hits tied a career high, which was previously set with a 4-for-6 effort in 11 innings on June 22, also against the Rockies. Verdugo clubbed a pair of home runs at Dodger Stadium that night, including a walk-off.
Prior to channeling a change in mindset, Verdugo attempted to ditch his batting gloves as a means of ending his drought on Tuesday. He remained hitless in four at-bats.
Verdugo has largely managed to limit stretches of empty trips to the plate and has remained productive in his first full Major League season. He enters Thursday’s series opener against the San Diego Padres batting .295/.344/.479 with 21 doubles, two triples, 14 home runs and 44 RBI.
Beyond the consistent production he’s provided, Verdugo additionally has delivered for the Dodgers in clutch moments. He has a walk-off sacrifice fly in addition to the aforementioned game-winning home run, plus six go-ahead hits.