Dodgers Prospect Watch: Gavin Lux Finally Making Noise

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(Jerry Espinoza/MiLB.com)

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.

 

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20 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: Gavin Lux Finally Making Noise

  1. Good piece on Lux, Dennis. 2020 is right on schedule for him anyway because it will give him enough time to work out his throwing problems from the SS position. That’s really the only thing holding him back from moving up sooner, to be honest here. Glad the front office didn’t include Lux in that Machado deal, too. Gotta at least have something in the way of “insurance” at that position should Manny decide chase the FA $$$ elsewhere this upcoming offseason…

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  2. I think we have 3 Tier 1 prospects in a system that by some accounts is not even in the Top 10 anymore. Verdugo, Ruiz and Smith are those 3 Lux, May and Alvarez are Tier 2. Kendall, in our Top 10, has a long way to go.

    Who gets promoted next year? With the way FAZ works, it’s conceivable nobody does, but my guess is Verdugo will finally break the starting lineup. That of course means somebody in the crowded house outfield must go. Frankly I still like our fastest runner, Bellinger, in center, where he could add at least 1 to his total WAR number, and make us better up the middle, but in discussions I get a lot of pushback on that idea.

    What I want to know is who plays more out there in September. Next year can wait.

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    1. I believe next year’s 25-man roster depends upon what happens at the winter meetings and whether or not they go after Machado and Kershaw. Personally, I’m curious to know who they feel will be the primary catcher next year.

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      1. I think the position of catcher will be their main concern this winter. It won’t be Grandal because somebody will give him at least 3-4 years and we certainly won’t. Neither Smith or Ruiz are ready yet and if the 2018 version of Austin Barnes is our 2019 first string catcher, we have a problem. Ramos is also going to get more years than we’re prepared to give him and other than that, the free agent pickings are slim. That leaves a trade for someone who could handle the position for one or two years and I’m not sure who might be out there. Of course, Barnes could rediscover himself or they could decide to try Farmer but I doubt they’ll go into next season content to take their chances on either of those possibilities. I expect them to make an offer to Machado and I expect him to sign elsewhere, probably with an east coast team. I expect Kershaw to be back in Dodger Blue but I have no idea under what contract circumstances. I really wouldn’t mind re-signing Dozier if he would be content with a 2 year contract. I’m guessing he probably wouldn’t be. I do expect we’ll have a very good closer-type reliever to back up Kenley next year. I think the last couple of weeks have taught the front office that they need to play this differently than they have in the past.

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    2. They have to bring Verdugo to LA next year or trade him. If they make him play another year at AAA they’ll have a very angry prospect on their hands. This is the winter they need t make their decision. Play him or trade him. I love Bellinger in center. I love Bellinger at first. There lies the problem. Or at least, there lies my problem.

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      1. You either play him at first or center, depending who you think the other best options are at first or center. I’m not saying he is, but I’d Muncy is the next best position player under Bellinger, you gotta play Cody in CF.

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      2. Why do you have to be so dang logical Dennis? I want to be emotional about this. Strictly defensively speaking, I’d rather have Verdugo/Toles/CT3 in center and Belli at first, but if Muncy continues to hit you need to find a spot for him. I wonder how good a left fielder he is? At some point, either 2019 or 2020, Kemp will not be our starting left fielder. I think Cody is a vastly superior first baseman to Max but that’s just my eye test. Have not checked any kind of defensive stats which might prove me wrong.

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  3. The best offensive solution is to put Muncy at 2nd. Question is can he improve to give us adequate defense. Another off season decision is do we resign JOC? Comes down to him or Verdugo. Who do you like better?

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    1. When I look at Muncy’s play at second and compare it with what we’ve seen from Dozier, there isn’t any comparison, but I guess you can only fit so many guys on a 25 man roster. I imagine I’ll get screamed at by a few folks here but I’m wondering if it would pay to trade high on Max this winter. As I ask that question, the answer is probably no because he’s so affordable and he does provide a lot of offense. But it is something to ponder. I don’t think Joc is a free agent this coming winter so your question is whether we trade Joc. Given the choice, I would vote to keep Verdugo but it isn’t nearly the slam dunk I thought it was at the beginning of the season.

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    1. I vote yes on keeping both Kike and CT3 even though they certainly both have their flaws. At their best, they provide something special and they are both still young. Kike is probably our best defensive guy overall and if CT3 could cut down on his k’s he would really improve his value. I realize that the premise of your question is whether or not they more or less duplicate each other. The answer may well be yes, but I’d still like to have them both.

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  4. Defenseive WAR is weighted by position. Up the middle defense is more valuable. That is why Bellinger could put up more WAR in center. Our best defensive team doesn’t have Muncy on it.

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    1. Since the days of yore when I watched a horrible defensive third baseman (Steve Garvey) become a spectacular first baseman due in great part to the number of bad throws he saved from the left side of the infield, I have valued a good defensive first baseman just as highly as defense up the middle. Of course, I’m just one poor misinformed fan. I assume someone has measured the value of a guy who can prevent errors on throws but I’ve never seen any stats, so until I’m disproven I’m going to hold on to my views. Also I wonder if the vast amount of shifts has played into up-the-middle defense, since the third baseman is basically playing second base in a number of those shifts.

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      1. Yeah, I know a lot of people say that Jeff. Sabermetricians have an answer for this, the defensive spectrum (from easiest to hardest):

        Designated hitter – First baseman – Left fielder – Right fielder – Third baseman – Center fielder – Second baseman – Shortstop – Catcher

        Up the middle. Since Abner was a minnow. First base is where older, still good hitters often end up. And most throws in the dirt are short hops, which are generally considered an easy play for an infielder. If we keep Muncy, that is where he must go. He’s been there most of the time since mid July.

        If the team decides to keep him he can learn the position better in Spring Training. It wouldn’t surprise me if they lose him over the winter and find a real center fielder.

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  5. Looks like we signed international free agent Choi Hyun-Il, 18 year old Korean pitcher, who would probably have been the first overall draft pick in the upcoming Korean League draft.

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