LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers’ two most valued prospects will be in Los Angeles this month.
Outfielder Alex Verdugo, the team’s top-ranked position player prospect, joined the Dodgers when rosters expanded on Friday and started all four games in San Diego over the weekend. The team’s top-ranked pitching prospect, right-hander Walker Buehler, will join the Dodgers on Wednesday.
The Dodgers’ first-round draft pick in 2015, Buehler underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after the draft. This was his first full season as a professional and he progressed from Class-A to Triple-A. In order to limit his innings and prepare him for a potential promotion to Los Angeles, Buehler finished the season pitching out of the bullpen for the Oklahoma City Dodgers. He made nine relief appearances, allowing seven runs on 13 hits while striking out 19 in 13 1/3 innings.
“He’s had a very quick ascension,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Buehler, ranked the 17th-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America at midseason. “He’s ultra-ultra-competitive, ultra-talented. To get him here and reward him for being as good as he has been this year, to get him around our guys, for Rick (Honeycutt, Dodgers pitching coach) to put eyes on him, to be around our players, we feel it can help him. And also in between the lines, he can help us get some innings and get some outs.”
Roberts said Buehler will pitch out of the bullpen but would not specify a role for him.
“Every game’s different,” Roberts said. “I plan on using him in a relief role. To what extent, we have to see how each game plays out.”
Verdugo is being given a chance to play his way onto the Dodgers’ postseason roster this month. His left-handed bat in center field would give the Dodgers flexibility elsewhere on that roster.
Roberts would not say how much of a long shot it would be for Buehler to also pitch his way into the October picture.
“Honestly, we’re not even thinking about that, in that context right now,” Roberts said. “Has it happened? Yeah, it’s happened. It all depends on how he fares. He’s going to get opportunities. But when you’re talking about the postseason, we’re not even thinking about a postseason roster yet. I can honestly say that. We want to put eyes on him. He’s earned it.
“He’s very talented, I know that. He’s a part of the future, I know that. And possibly the present. How much of the present? That’s up to him.”
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