Chicago Cubs: Luis Verdugo, 3B/SS – 22 K in 54 plate appearances
I wrote about Luis Verdugo last year, talking about the intrigue his game brought after his impressive 2019 campaign. After signing out of Mexico for $1.2 million in 2017, the now 20-year-old struggled out of the gate initially. Things came together when he hit .305 in his second year at rookie ball with a 120 wRC+.
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Verdugo has yet to replicate the success this year at Myrtle Beach, a step higher than what he had experienced before last season. In his defense, Verdugo is playing nearly two years behind in his age curve. It is his first exposure outside of the confines of depleted competition, so some of this was to be expected.
One foreseeable challenge fans did not expect to reach their lengths was the increased number of strikeouts. The difference in competitive levels is mind-boggling as Verdugo went from a career-low 17.6 percent strikeout rate to a whopping 40.7 percent. A big proponent of that is age, but also Verdugo is currently slashing .113/.130/.189 with a -10 wRC+. Thankfully, it could not get worse.
Like Morel, Verdugo’s name has been thrown around as an option at the hot corner. Most likely, things will have to improve drastically. He is one of these guys who face stronger competition, as his cohort from above can attest. Verdugo has not gotten a hit in the past two weeks while rocking a 53.8 percent strikeout rate. There is the capability to improve, and there would not be a reason Verdugo could not in the coming seasons.