Gavin Lux: Dodgers 2019 Minor League Player Of The Year
The Dodgers projected a bright future for Gavin Lux when they made him their first-round draft pick in 2016, and those projections were solidified by Lux's progress in his first three pro seasons. But the Dodgers might have to re-think those projections after 2019, as Lux has become even better faster than they could have expected.
"As bullish as we were coming into the year, no one can say we expected this," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "But it does jibe with all of our player development guys' thoughts on his makeup and aptitude and curiosity to get better. Each and every year he has taken the goals for that year, ripped them up and set the bar higher. For him to continue that upward ascent is not shocking."
What has been shocking is the way Lux made the jump from Double-A to Triple-A. In his first 37 games at the higher level, he had 67 hits, a .429 batting average, 1.309 OPS and 31 extra-base hits (16 doubles, four triples and 11 home runs).
"I think his approach in the batter's box is incredibly precocious," Friedman said. "It's one of the most advanced I've ever seen for a player this age."
Friedman said the 21-year-old has excellent plate discipline and pitch recognition skills but sets himself apart with his "understanding [of] how a pitcher is trying to attack him and making adjustments at-bat to at-bat."
The next box for Lux to check is his defense. He had some throwing issues in spring training with the Dodgers, but he has continued to improve year after year at shortstop, Friedman said, and he has shown the capability to play second base as well.
"That is the area that is kind of the finishing-school aspect that we're locked in on," Friedman said of Lux's defense. "It's much more about that than it is in the batter's box. But he's got the physical tools, and he can make the double-plus plays with his athleticism. It's just the every-day aspect of it.
"He has gotten better from Opening Day 2018 to Opening Day 2019, and he's better today than he was at the beginning of the year."
— Two of the Dodgers' top prospects entering the year—catcher Will Smith and righthander Dustin May—will finish the season with the big league team and could play significant roles in the postseason. Smith has been handed the job as the team's primary catcher with Austin Barnes demoted to Triple-A, and May could be the Dodgers' No. 4 starter in the playoffs or pitch in an important bullpen role.
— Top catching prospect Keibert Ruiz suffered a broken pinky finger in early August, likely ending his 2019 season. The 21-year-old Ruiz reached Triple-A for the first time in late July and went 12-for-38 (.316) with two home runs and nine RBIs in nine games before he was injured.