Despite pitching prowess, Verdugo to roam outfield

Despite pitching prowess, Verdugo to roam outfield

LOS ANGELES -- Despite a preference to Draft pitchers that borders on obsession, sometimes Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Logan White takes a two-way player and lets him leave the mound for the batter's box.

White did it with James Loney in 2002 and again Thursday in the second round of the First-Year Player Draft, selecting Arizona high schooler Alex Verdugo as an outfielder, even though Verdugo was viewed by many clubs as a left-handed pitcher, as was Loney coming out of high school a dozen years ago.

"He would have been a high pick as a pitcher, but he loves to hit," White said of Verdugo, who will start his career as a center fielder. "He's a quality hitter. Like I said years ago with Loney, if he doesn't hit, he'll go right to the mound. I think he can be a big league pitcher."

But White also acknowledged the Dodgers are light in home-grown position players and this Draft was particularly thin. White said that as an outfielder, Verdugo reminded him of Joc Pederson, the club's No. 2 prospect.

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pre-Draft show begins at 9:30 a.m. PT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 10 a.m. PT. The final 30 rounds of the Draft will be held on Saturday.

The 18-year-old Verdugo, who is 6-foot-1 and weighs 180 pounds, attended Sahuaro High School near Tucson and committed to attend Arizona State University. He was the 62nd player taken overall on Day 1.

According to MLB.com, Verdugo as a pitcher has a "three-quarters delivery gives him good angle and movement on his fastball, which averages 89-91 mph and has reached 94. He could add more velocity if he focuses on pitching full-time, and he also features a promising curveball and a changeup with some life.

"The athleticism that made him a solid outfield prospect, and would help him be a potential two-way player at Arizona State, should aid him in his development as a pitcher, though the MVP winner for the National team at the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field last August will have to get past some makeup concerns to keep his Draft stock up."

As a pitcher this year, he struck out 93 in 52 2/3 innings with a 2.26 ERA. As a hitter, he batted .532 with three homers, 32 RBIs in 31 games and 18 doubles.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.