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Verdugo hits for the cycle for Quakes

Dodgers' No. 7 prospect triples in eighth inning to complete the feat
August 27, 2015

In order to hit for the cycle, Alex Verdugo had to forget that he was going for it.

The Dodgers' No. 7 prospect had homered, singled and doubled in his first three at-bats during the Class A Advanced Quakes' 10-2 victory over the Storm on Wednesday, but he didn't realize how close he was to his first pro cycle until he went back to center field in the bottom of the seventh inning and right fielder Kyle Garlick informed him.

"Wow, I really am," Verdugo thought, before superstitious thoughts made him worry that he'd just jinxed himself.

Then the 19-year-old came to bat in the eighth with one out and the bases loaded, thinking only about a triple. He took a fastball from righty reliever Andrew Walter and swung at a slider in the dirt to fall behind 0-2.

"At point, I forgot all about the cycle," he said. "I just wanted to get a run in."

Verdugo did that and more, pulling a slider to the deepest part of the park in right-center field.

"As soon as I hit it, I knew I hit it well and started running as fast as I could go," he said. "I was going to make it [to third]."

Even though there was no relay attempt to third base, the 2014 second-rounder dove head first, not wanting to risk getting thrown out.

"I hit the bag and I blacked out," Verdugo said, who would score during the five-run inning that propelled Rancho Cucamonga to victory. "My dugout got really loud."

The cycle was the 17th in the Minor Leagues this season and the third since Sunday, when Arizona's Isan Diaz accomplished the feat for Rookie-level Missoula. Cleveland's Bryson Myles followed with one Tuesday for Double-A Akron. Verdugo's cycle was the fourth in the California League this season and the Quakes' first since Angelo Songco on May 25, 2011.

The Tucson, Arizona native raised his average to .364 in 13 California League games this season. He has nine extra-base hits in 55 at-bats. Verdugo said he recently went through a rough stretch in which he was overthinking his plate appearances, but felt a lot better going into Wednesday's game after having three good at-bats Tuesday.

His night started with a second-inning home run off Lancaster right-hander Keegan Yuhl, whom Verdugo had never faced. The left-handed hitter drove a middle-in fastball to right-center. In the third, he was way ahead of a changeup by Yuhl, then drilled a fastball in the hole between third and short.

After walking in the fifth, Verdugo led off the seventh against submariner Ryan Thompson.

"I wanted to see how he looked, so I took the first pitch and then got ahead, 2-0," he said. "I was waiting for something elevated."

He smacked that very pitch down the left-field line for a double, ending the day 4-for-4 with, four RBIs and two runs scored. He also made a full-extension diving catch on Sean McMullen's fly ball to end the third. But still he didn't take home a game ball, and he can't save the bat used to accomplish his feat as a souvenir since it's the only one he has at present.

"My mind was going a thousand miles an hour," Verdugo said. "It was a surreal moment. I couldn't focus to ask for the ball."

Andrew Kahn is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AndrewKahn.