Draft Report: Alex Verdugo, HS Outfielder/Pitcher

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.

2014 Draft Central

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.

Holmes honored to be taken by Dodgers in Round 1

Draft 2014: Dodgers draft RHP Grant Holmes No. 22

LOS ANGELES -- The outbreak of Tommy John surgeries has only strengthened the resolve of Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Logan White to select pitchers, which he did in the first round again Thursday, picking right-hander Grant Holmes out of Conway (S.C.) High School in the First-Year Player Draft.

White has now selected pitchers first in 11 of the past 12 Drafts.

"You can't be afraid of taking pitching," White said. "If pitchers are breaking down, why take less pitching? You need pitching."

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame 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.

White drafted the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Holmes, describing him as "an advanced high school pitcher" and comparing him to Matt Cain and Chad Billingsley, only with more velocity at this stage.

"He's a lot better pitcher than 22nd, I'll tell you that," White said.

Holmes has a fastball in the mid-90s and a power curve White said was "the best breaking ball I saw in the country." Holmes had 82 strikeouts and 16 walks in 40 innings with a 0.52 ERA and is committed to attend the University of Florida.

"It's a true blessing," Holmes said on MLB Network. "I'm very honored to be a Dodger and I'm ready to pitch."

The Dodgers have $4,947,700 to spend on their first 10 picks, ranking 25th in MLB, with $1,980,500 designated for the first-round pick.

White said he was cautiously optimistic of signing Holmes, while acknowledging the pitcher is undoubtedly disappointed he wasn't selected higher. The Dodgers appeared to reach for second-round pick Alex Verdugo, and if they sign him at a discount, can redirect some funds for signing Holmes.

"I never thought we'd have a chance to get a pitcher of this caliber," White said.

 "Holmes established himself as a likely first-rounder with a series of strong performances on the showcase circuit last summer, and he has been better than ever this spring," said MLB.com's Jim Callis.

"He made scouts sit up and notice when he fired a 100-mph fastball during a preseason scrimmage, and he continued to deliver outstanding velocity throughout his senior season. Holmes repeatedly worked at 91-97 mph, also impressing with his improved ability to locate his fastball on both sides of the plate.

"Holmes can devastate hitters with his curveball as well. At its best, it grades as well above average, a low-80s power breaker with good depth. He didn't need it much against high school competition, but the Florida recruit also has made significant strides with his changeup, which can run to either side and shows flashes of becoming a plus pitch."

"The only knock on Holmes is his height, but he's strong, so he does it easy," an area scout said. "We've seen 97-98 mph in the seventh inning. I've seen three plus pitches and the ability to maintain his velocity. I like him a lot. He really competes and he has a feel for pitching."

According to Callis, "Holmes is shorter and bigger than his listed 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, though scouts have noted that he spent the offseason getting into tremendous shape. He may lack much in the way of projection, but he's strong and his present stuff gives him more than enough to succeed as a front-line starter in the Major Leagues.

"Holmes has a quick arm and provides premium pitches with little effort in his delivery. His arm action can get long in back, and he must be sure to stay on top of his pitches to get good downward plane and work at the bottom of the strike zone, but he's more refined than a typical high school pitcher."

Holmes' brother, Colby, played at South Carolina University and is in his second season with the Atlanta Braves' organization.