The Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2016, Gavin Lux wasn’t happy with his first full season in 2017. So the shortstop decided to do something about it—find a new swing.
“Going into the offseason I had a plan of figuring out a swing and making certain adjustments that I stuck with this whole year,” Lux said this fall. “I told myself I wasn’t going to play too much with my mechanics because that’s what I fell into last year. So I stayed consistent with it, and I think it turned out pretty good.”
Indeed, it did. After batting .244/.331/.362 at low Class A Great Lakes in 2017, Lux hit a combined .324 with 15 home runs and a .913 OPS at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa in 2018. He earned the Dodgers’ Branch Rickey Award as their minor league position player of the year.
The changes the 21-year-old Lux made to his swing last winter had a familiar 21st century ring to them.
“I try to stay in my legs more and with my swing path try to get the ball in the air more,” he said. “That allowed me to hit breaking balls, changeups—more pitches better than just fastballs.”
The changes focused on “my swing path and trying to get on plane with the ball early,” allowing Lux, who bats lefthanded, to lift the ball. “Especially with all the shifts, there’s not a lot of hits on the ground anymore,” he said.
This winter’s focus now shifts to defense. Lux was drafted as a shortstop out of high school in Kenosha, Wis., but has played some second base each of the past two seasons and wants to get more consistent at both positions.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman likes that mentality.
“We’ve got a number of guys who think he’s a major league caliber shortstop right now,” Friedman said. “That’s just his mindset (to improve). He’s going to challenge himself and put in the work to be as good as he can be.”
How good that is—and how quickly—is the question that every prospect carries during his development years.
“He’s a really talented young prospect. I always hesitate to put timetables on guys,” Friedman said. “But we feel really confident about his ability, his makeup, his ability to make adjustments. We look forward to watching him continue to be challenged and make the requisite adjustments.
“He’s a very astute player. He’s a student of the game, has a very advanced feel for his swing, is really inquisitive, has put a lot of time and energy into it and has made real progress through his own hard work with a number of our hitting guys who have impacted him.”
— The Dodgers announced their 2019 major league coaching staff and it includes four new faces after the departures of Chris Woodward, Luis Ortiz, Turner Ward and Danny Lehmann. They were replaced by longtime Angels coach Dino Ebel (third base) and three first-year big league coaches: Robert Van Scoyoc (hitting), Aaron Bates (assistant hitting) and Chris Gimenez (game-planning).
— The Dodgers made two minor trades in November. They sent speedy outfielder/second baseman Tim Locastro to the Yankees for 22-year-old righthander Drew Finley, who is the son of the Dodgers’ vice president for amateur and international scouting David Finley. They also purchased lefthanded reliever Adam McCreery from the Braves.