Just when it seemed like he has his swing mechanics figured out, problems with his arm appear to be re-emerging, something which has haunted him over the past few seasons.
The good news is that he’s only 21 years old, and the Dodgers think so highly of him that they named him as the team’s 2018 Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year last fall.
The Wisconsin native started his 2018 season with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, batting .312 (72-for-231) with eight home runs and 35 RBI and was named a Mid-Season All-Star. He continued his dominance in the second half of the season, slashing .346/.396/.528 and was selected as a post-season California League All-Star, finishing among the league leaders in average (.324, 3rd), OBP (.396, 2nd), SLG (.520, 3rd) and OPS (.916, 2nd). After 88 games with the Quakes, he was promoted to Double-A Tulsa where he hit .324 (34-for-105) with four home runs, nine RBI and a .408 on-base percentage in 28 appearances.
His stellar 2018 season came after a dreadful 2017 campaign when he spent the year exclusively with Low-A Great Lakes. He was mired in an offensive funk for most of the season, hitting just .244/.331/.362 in 458 AB. 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.
“In 2017, I played with a ton of stuff during the season and it kind of messed with me mentally,” Lux recently told Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. “Once I kind of figured it out in the offseason going into last year, I was like ‘Man, I’m just going to stick with what I’m doing right now. It feels good, so I’m not going to tinker with my mechanics too much.’ That kind of helped to stay consistent and I could just worry about my approach and game plan going into the games and not worry about mechanics so much.”
Starting 2019 on the big league side of spring camp, he has certainly struggled with his bat a bit, but that’s to be expected considering the level of competition he’s facing. So far during Cactus league play, he has gone just 3-for-20 with a double and a triple.
But his swing mechanics aren’t his only concern. There has been a lot of chatter about the accuracy of his arm—something we’ve been talking about for a few years now.
Although his glove and range are excellent, he apparently has problems with his throws across the diamond, despite his rifle of an arm. Scouts have 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 Rancho. It seemed to work nicely, as he registered only four errors in more than 149 innings at the keystone.
However, the problem seems to have returned, perhaps from a frequent fluctuation between shortstop and second base during spring camp—a kind of versatility that boss Andrew Friedman expects from many of his top prospects.
Skipper Dave Roberts has attributed Lux’s recent dilemmas to grip issues and improper footwork. Last weekend, Lux spent time with infield instructor Jose Vizcaino trying to sure-up his defensive mechanics on the diamond.
These are the advantages of a prospect having a full major league coaching staff at his disposal during the early spring months—time will tell how much Vizcaino’s tutelage has benefited the youngster.
Looking ahead, there’s a good chance that Lux will begin the year at Double-A Tulsa, but depending on how well he performs on both sides of the ball, a mid-season promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City wouldn’t be out of the question.
Since being selected as the first-round pick by the Dodgers in the 2016 draft, Lux baseman has appeared in 283 career minor league games, slashing .288/.368/.432 with 22 homers, 54 doubles, and 117 RBI.