If you missed my column yesterday, it basically talked about how Kody Hoese and Michael Busch were among the emerging prospects of the Dodgers, as both were ranked inside MLB.com‘s Top 10 list at their respective positions. This morning, the shortstop rankings were revealed, listing rookie Gavin Lux as the baseball’s best shortstop prospect with 21-year-old Jeter Downs not far behind in eighth place.
Lux started his 2019 season with Double-A Tulsa batting .313 (81-for-259) with 13 home runs and 37 RBI over 64 games. The left-handed hitter was selected to the Texas League All-Star Game while also appearing in the 2019 Futures Game.
The 22-year-old Wisconsin native was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City on June 27 and proceeded 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).
The 6-foot-2, 190-lb. Lux made his major league debut on Sept. 2, going 2-for-5 with three runs, becoming the first Dodger in franchise history to score three runs in his big league debut. He finished the regular season by slashing .240/.305/.400 with two homers, four doubles and nine RBI over 75 AB in 23 games. He was also named to the Dodgers’ active playoff roster in the 2019 NLDS against the Nationals.
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. The Dodgers also named him as their Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the year for the second straight season.
Many MLB pundits feel that Lux has a legitimate shot at earning 2020 National League Rookie of the Year honors.
For those unfamiliar with Downs, it was he and newly crowned Minor League Pitcher of the Year Josiah Gray the Dodgers gained when they shipped out Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer to the Reds back in 2018.
Downs is a 5-foot-11, 185-lb. right-handed hitter who can comfortably handle the duties at both shortstop and second base, just like Lux. Some folks familiar with the Los Angeles farm have suggested that a move to third base could conceivably be in the cards for Downs, who possesses an above-average infield arm.
For the Low-A Dayton Dragons in 2018, Downs slashed .257/.351/.402 with 23 doubles, 13 long balls and 37 stolen bases over 120 games, hitting primarily out of the three-hole. More impressively, he tallied 52 walks, which boosted his OBP to almost 100 points more than his actual average.
Defensively in 2018, he played 73 games at the keystone and 43 at shortstop. In terms of fielding, he committed half as many errors at second, seven, than he did at short, 14.
During his first year in the Dodgers system, he hit .277/.362/.526 with an impressive 35 doubles, 24 homers and 86 RBI over 119 games. Most of those appearances were with High-A Rancho, but he was promoted to Double-A Tulsa in time to see action in 12 contests.
Last season in the field, he made 102 appearances and short and just 11 at second.
MLB.com is slated to release its Top 10 outfield prospects on Thursday, Jan. 23.