Dodgers Prospect Watch: Lux, Gray Named Minor League Players of Year

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The Dodgers announced on Thursday afternoon that the organization has named infielder Gavin Lux as the Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year and right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray as the Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

The left-handed hitting Lux started his 2019 season with Double-A Tulsa batting .313 (81-for-259) with 13 home runs and 37 RBI over 64 games. He was selected to the Texas League All-Star Game while also appearing in the 2019 Futures Game.

The 21-year-old Wisconsin native was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City on June 27 and went on to hit .392 (78-for-232) with 13 home runs and 39 RBI over 49 contests. Among Pacific Coast League batters with at least 200 plate appearances, he ranked second in average (.392), first in OBP (.478), fourth in slugging percentage (.719) and third in OPS (1.197).

Lux was named the 2019 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .347 (159-for-458) with 26 homers and 76 RBI in 113 combined games between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. He was the third Dodger to win the award since its inception in 1981, joining Mike Marshall in 1981 and Paul Konerko in 1997.

In four minor league seasons on the Los Angeles farm, Lux has amassed 79 doubles, 29 triples, 48 homers and driven in 193 runs while slashing .305/.383/.483 in 396 games.

Lux, the Dodgers’ first round selection (20th overall) in the 2016 First Year Player Draft out of Indian Trail High School, joins Billy Ashley (1993-94), Paul Konerko (1996-97), Chad Billingsley (2004-2005), Joe Thurston (2000, 2002), James McDonald (2007-08), Zach Lee (2013, 2015) and Joc Pederson (2010, 2012) as two-time Branch Rickey Award recipients.

Lux made his Major League debut on September 2, going 2-for-5 with three runs, becoming the first Dodger in franchise history to score three runs in his Major League debut.

According to MLB Pipeline, Lux is ranked as the best prospect in the Dodgers’ organization and the second-best prospect in all of baseball.

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In 26 games (25 starts) combined this season between Low-A Great Lakes, High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Tulsa, Gray finished with an 11-2 record and a 2.70 ERA (33 ER/130.0 IP) with 147 strikeouts against just 31 walks.

The 21-year-old New York native started his season in the Midwest League, posting a 1.93 ERA (5 ER/23.1 IP) in five starts before being promoted to Rancho. In 12 Cal League starts, he went a perfect 7-0 with a 2.14 ERA (16 ER/67.1 IP), a 0.97 WHIP and a .209 opponents’ batting average. After earning a promotion to Tulsa on July 17, Gray pitched to a 2.75 ERA (12 ER/39.1 IP) across nine games (eight starts) for the Drillers.

Gray was selected in the second round of the 2018 draft by the Cincinnati Reds out of Le Moyne College in New York. He was acquired along with infielder Jeter Downs in a trade from the Reds on December 21, 2018 that saw Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer shipped to Cincinnati.

In 38 career minor league games (37 starts) over two seasons, the right-handed pitcher is 26-7 with a 2.37 ERA (48 ER/182.1 IP) and has struck out 206 batters against 48 walks.

As far as his repertoire goes, Gray’s bread and butter is his heater, which has some natural cutting action and sits comfortably in the mid-nineties. It has been clocked as high as 98 MPH in 2018. For his age, he commands his fastball extremely well. His slider is also considered a plus pitch, but it often lacks command, unlike his fastball. He also throws a changeup that’s also a bit raw. Presently, he’s being groomed as a starter, but based on the brilliance of his four-seamer, he may eventually end up throwing in relief.

MLB Pipeline ranks Gray as the fourth-best prospect in the Dodgers’ system.

TBPC put together a concise profile surrounding Gray as recently as August 25.

Both Lux and Gray will both be presented with their respective awards and honored in a pregame ceremony at Dodger Stadium on September 21 prior to the Dodgers’ game against the Rockies.

(Juan Dorado furnished some information provided in this report)

 

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24 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: Lux, Gray Named Minor League Players of Year

    1. The crazy thing was that 85% of Dodger fans thought that both Jeter Downs and Gray would be immediately flipped by Friedman. At the time, those same 85% also thought the Dodgers were gonna make a huge play for Bryce Harper.

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  1. But, if I had a crystal ball, and knew belly, joc, and max were all going to play like they did this season, I wouldn’t have thought we needed Harper.

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  2. It would appear winning the Branch Rickey Award doesn’t guarantee anything.

    I figured somebody would be used to better the club. I had that wrong. Though I thought it would be cool to have him in the lineup, I never really believed they would get Harper. He doesn’t fit the Friedman model.

    I don’t think buying a closer is a good idea anymore. Developing them is the smarter move. We overpaid Jansen. Lesson learned.

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  3. We’ve got enough quality arms in the system. We need to start developing more bullpen help. Looks like Santana and Sheffield are on that track. We need more

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  4. Looks like an award to guarantee you will be a career minor leaguer, especially for 2 time losers (winners?). I wouldn’t want to win that award twice. Looks like a kiss of death. Please no!

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  5. I was one of those who thought the flip was coming also, but I never thought the Dodgers would sign Harper. I just thought Boras would be asking too much and I was right. Just announced Kersh is pitching tonight against the woeful Rockies. Again I have to watch the game on Root sports and listen to the dreadful Drew Goodman. Starting lineup for LA, Pederson, Muncy, Pollock, Bellinger, Seager, Taylor, Lux, Smith, and Kershaw. No Turner yet. Muncy at 3rd, Belli at 1st, Taylor in CF and Pollock in left.

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    1. So we’re using our centerfielder Pollock in left, our preferred left fielder (CT3) in center. Our preferred right fielder/center fielder (Belli) at first and our preferred first baseman (Max) at 3rd. Maybe Doc is just trying to get these guys used to every position so if he needs to move them around in the playoffs they’ll be ready for it. I wonder if Pollock is now exclusively a left fielder or if this is just because of his ongoing groin problem. I wonder if they’ve decided they’re not happy with Taylor at third so won’t do that again. I do know that I’m not happy with Max at third. First or second, no problem, but I don’t like him at third. That said, this is playground time, so I’m not stressing over it. I do, however, feel that moving guys all over the field from one game to the next ultimately reduces the quality of the overall defense.

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      1. Jeff, it has been stated numerous times on the broadcast since Pollock began playing left a couple of weeks ago that they are doing it because it causes less stress on the groin and they are trying to keep Pollock as healthy as possible heading into the playoffs. He has been one of the more consistent bats. I thought Cody had a shot at being the first Dodger to ever hit 50 dingers. I am less confident he does that now. Even though he is going to be facing bottom feeders the rest of the way. I also do not like Muncy at 3rd, but it is what it is and that’s how Doc has the lineup made out. Would like to see Beaty get some more reps in the outfield before playoff time.

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      2. Someone pointed out on twitter today that Bellinger has hit 45 homers off of 45 different pitchers. Never been done before. Closest was Pujols with 40/40.
        Let’s see if Belli can get 50/50.

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      3. I am surprised he has not connected for multiple shots against some of these guys. He just missed hitting one out tonight. Pollock’s shot was a blast. This team has set records for runs scored and HR’s. Nice to see Turner get an at bat. He will be in the lineup tomorrow. Hill is starting Tuesday against the Padres. The Rockies are down right bad. Their pitching is porous. ERA for the months of July and August was over 6 both months. HR’s continue to plague Kersh. Gives up 3 more, bringing his season total to 28. Can’t be doing that in the playoffs. You dig a hole against good pitchers like most of the playoff teams will have, and you might not get back in the game. Still hate the shift. I saw at least 5 at bats where a well placed bunt or little slap shot to left would have been an easy hit. Bellinger continues to roll over on the ball when he tries to pull it. His one hit was to left center. Muncy seems to be coming out of his prolonged slump and even though he was ofer, Will Smith hit a couple of shots but they were at em balls.

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  6. I was hoping the team could build some momentum for the last couple of weeks, but with playing everybody out of position it’s hard to get comfortable. Hope Doc knows what he’s doing.

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    1. Keith, they have 8 games left, and they could conceivably win them all. They are setting the rotation up for the playoffs, evaluating who they think will be helpful in the playoffs and trying to keep the important pieces healthy. Just look at the Yankees. They lost Betances the other day, and have a few more players that are banged up. Locks for the playoff roster in my mind are Belli, Freese, Muncy, Taylor, Pederson, Turner, Kike, Smith, Martin, Pollock, the rest are in the mix, but not locks yet. Ryu, Kersh, Buehler, Jansen, Baez, Kelly, Stripling, Maeda, those are the for sure pitchers that will be on the roster. Everyone else is auditioning for a spot.

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  7. What Jefe said.

    The Dodgers defense just hasn’t been that good in my opinion. This moving around business is why. Just put Muncy at first, the designated utility guy at third and Bellinger in center. It’s time to settle in with our playoff lineup.

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    1. Dodgers are 21st in the majors in fielding. The only 3 NL teams worse are the Cubs, Pirates and Padres. They have 100 errors so far. Mets are close to them with 97 errors. Muncy, Seager and Taylor are all in double digits. Belli only has 4 and Turner checks in with 8. Smith is the only catcher on the team who has yet to make an error. He does have 2 passed balls. Martin has 7 and Barnes has 2. There have been 9 wild pitches with Smith back there, 13 with Martin and 15 with Barnes.

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      1. We handled a last place club. Wasn’t easy at first. But we put them away.

        Kershaw looked hittable. Again.

        What’s wrong with Greg Gibson? Sensitive dude.

        Atlanta keeping pace but not likely to catch us. St Louis looks good. That should be a great series.

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      2. Kersh has looked hittable all year. His first inning stats are abysmal. But he usually settles down after that and limits the damage. As per usual, all 3 of the homers were solo shots. Atlanta of all the other NL contenders has to my view anyway, the best starting staff.

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      3. Check his stats over his last 4 starts or so and he is very average or under. Lets just hope he gets this out of his system now. I think Jansen’s pride is taking precedence over his brain. He has to know he is not nearly as dominant as he once was. He is ok a couple of games and then implodes. At this point, I do not trust him in a pressure cooker situation since he can’t even hold a 2 run lead, let alone one.

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      4. I agree Kershaw has looked average. Like I said, maybe he’s just marking time.

        I think Jansen will be ok if he’s used every other day. And by ok I mean just ok. His blow them away days appear to be behind him.

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