If you’ve been checking out any of Jason’s weekly minor league reports, you’ll know that he has been mentioning infielder Gavin Lux quite a bit recently. Selected by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2016 draft, many folks believed that he got off to a relatively slow start in the organization; however, his 2018 campaign has proven his tremendously high value.
Immediately after the draft, Lux was jettisoned to the Arizona League Dodgers to get his feet wet in the professional ranks as an 18-year-old. Despite a sluggish start with the bat, he ended up hitting .281/.365/.385, eventually proving he could handle the pitching, earning him a quick bump to rookie ball in Ogden to finish the year.
Lux spent 2017 exclusively with Low-A Great Lakes, where he was mired in an offensive funk for most of the season, hitting just .244/.331/.362 in 458 ABs. He did rally to hit over .300 for the final eight weeks of the season, though, and his 27 stolen bases proved how valuable he can be on the basepaths.
Being a first-rounder, pundits expected much more out of the Wisconsin native. Besides his low average, they were concerned about his absence of power at the plate and his ability to handle defensive duties at shortstop. Although his glove and range are excellent, he apparently had problems with his throws across the diamond, despite his rifle of an arm. Scouts attributed this problem to basic throwing mechanics.
To help alleviate his throwing dilemma, the organization let him spend a little time at second base to shorten-up his throws to begin his 2018 season at High-A Rancho Cucamonga. It seemed to work nicely, as he registered only four errors in more than 149 innings at the keystone. But what scouts did not expect was a surge on offense, especially in the power department. In 258 ABs for the Quakes, the left-handed hitting Lux slashed a very impressive .324/.396/.520 with 23 doubles, seven triples and 11 long balls, mostly hitting towards the top of the lineup. Scouts credited his newfound success at the plate to a rigorous offseason workout regimen, as well as him incorporating more drive and push with his legs.
For his efforts at Rancho, he was named a 2018 mid-season All-Star in the Cal League and also earned Cal League Player of the Week honors for the final week of April. To culminate his stay in the Cal League, Lux earned Player of the Month honors in July after batting .360 and leading the entire league with 41 hits, 23 runs scored and 64 total bases. Needless to say, his performance on both sides of the ball earned him a promotion to Double-A Tulsa at the beginning of August—not too shabby for a 20-year-old in his second full minor league year.
Since being moved up to Tulsa, Lux has been relegated back to shortstop and his offensive numbers haven’t skipped a beat in the pitcher-friendly confines of the Texas League. In his first 14 games, he’s hitting .345/.390/.527 with three home runs.
In the most recent prospect rankings, MLB Pipeline has Lux listed as the sixth best prospect in the Dodgers’ system. Initially, he was to believed to be one of the primary pieces in the deal for Manny Machado before the 2018 non-waiver deadline, but the Dodgers ended up hanging onto the young infielder in the end.
Many believe that his ceiling is very high, especially when considering his most recent power surge. Pundits have his big league ETA listed as 2020, and that assessment seems to be about right. Lux will likely begin his 2019 campaign with the Drillers, and if he continues his current rate of production on offense, should see time with Triple-A Oklahoma City by the end of the year, receiving the chance to prove how well he can rotate between both middle infield spots.