Luis Verdugo – Picture by Todd Johnson
In 2015, the Cubs went hog wild in signing international free agents for the second time in three years. As a result, the Cubs were given a two-year penalty where they could only spend so much money and the highest they I could sign a prospect was for a few hundred thousand dollars. In 2017, that money went to shortstop Luis Verdugo out of Mexico.
Bats – Right
Throws – Right
Height – 6-foot
Weight – 160
Age – 21
From – La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Signed as an IFA July 2, 2017
When I last wrote about Verdugo, he was right smack dab in the middle of a scintillating 2019 season in the Arizona Rookie League. At the end of that season we want a hitting. 305 and drove in 38 runs and 53 games. It looks like he was primed and ready to go to Eugene.
The next year in 2020, he got into a spring training game at the same time with Theo Epstein was in the booth and Theo just raved about Verdugo and he wound up getting ahead and that at bat. A few days later the pandemic hit and Verdugo’s season was over.
When baseball resumed in 2021, there was no Eugene. So, Verdugo was sent to Myrtle Beach where he struggled mightily most of the year as a 20-year-old in Low-A. His monthly splits were not very good until the end of the year when he seem to rebound a little bit in August to hit .280 in only 7 games.
As a result, when 2022 began I was a little surprised to see Verdugo get the bump to South Bend to start the year. Verdugo’s strength has always been his glove and arm. It was no surprise that he could defensively hang at that level. The bat, on the other hand, was a major concern. Well, surprises happen. In this case, it’s a good surprise for Verdugo.
This year, Verdugo looks more like the hitter from 2019 and than he does from 2021. His stroke looks smooth. He is seeing the ball well into the glove on pitches he does not swing at. Everything looks good. His walk rate is over 10% but his K rate is still a little high at 28%. He was hitting .268 heading into last night with a .348 OBP and a wRC+ of 107, which is a decent stat line so far.
I don’t know how much power Verdugo’s going to eventually have, and I don’t really think it matters right now, as he continues to grow into his body. He’s going to be 21 for the entire year. Time to just let him gain that experience and build on a decent start.