Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he’s taken to reach the brink of realizing his Major League dream. Here’s a look at Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Gavin Lux. It isn’t a question of if the Dodgers will call up Gavin Lux — their top prospect — for
Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he’s taken to reach the brink of realizing his Major League dream. Here’s a look at Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Gavin Lux.
It isn’t a question of if the Dodgers will call up Gavin Lux — their top prospect — for full-time duty, but when they’ll make the move.
The 2016 first-round pick succeeded at all levels, quickly moving through the ranks and developing into the complete player he was expected to be coming out of high school in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Still only 22, Lux got his first taste of the Majors late last season, and in his time in with the big club, showed glimpses of the Dodgers’ future.
2016 (Rookie AZL Dodgers, Rookie Advanced Ogden)
After receving a $2.31-million signing bonus, Lux was sent to the Arizona League for his first taste of professional baseball. He immediately made an impact, producing a .281/.365/.385 slash line with five triples, 10 doubles, 25 walks, 34 runs scored and 18 RBIs in 48 games. After notching a pair of three-hit efforts, he was promoted to the Pioneer League for the end of the summer. In eight games with the Raptors, he batted .387 with three doubles and three RBIs, demonstrating he was ready for a full-season league.
2017 (Class A Great Lakes)
Spending the entire season in the Midwest League, the 6-foot-2 infielder scuffled a bit with a .244 average in 434 at-bats. He flashed some power, going yard seven times along with eight triples and 14 doubles. As indicated by a triples total that tied for sixth on the circuit, his speed came to the forefront. Lux stole 27 bases in 37 attempts and scored 68 times in 111 games.
On May 11, he recorded first career four-hit game, going 4-for-5 with an RBI at Clinton. His average dipped to .201 on July 24, but Lux hit safely in 16 of 17 games from Aug. 13-30 to boost it back to .245.
While the batting average was his lowest as a Minor Leaguer, he showed a glimpse of things to come by tying for eighth on the circuit with 56 walks.
2018 (Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, Double-A Tulsa)
The proverbial major step from Class A to Class A Advanced didn’t faze Lux. In fact, he broke out for a .324/.396/.520 slash line in 88 games with the Quakes, knocking 11 homers, seven triples and 23 doubles. He also drew 43 walks, stole 11 bases and scored 64 times. Against Lake Elsinore on June 11, Lux had a breakout game with four hits, including a double, a walk and two RBIs.
Although he was named Player of the Week at the end of April and earned a spot on the California League midseason All-Star team, he really found his stride during a 19-game hitting streak from June 27-July 19 that matched the third-longest on the circuit that year. After going 0-for-4 on July 20, he picked up multiple hits in six of his next nine contests and was moved up to Double-A Tulsa on Aug. 1.
The change of address did nothing to slow Lux, who homered and singled twice in his Texas League debut on Aug. 2. While his approach didn’t change, the level of competition certainly did.
“I noticed right away,” he said. “Pitchers execute pitches better, they go after your weakness. The games are cleaner. I noticed right away.”
In 28 games with the Drillers, Lux produced a line that wasn’t much different than the one he had with Rancho Cucamonga: .324/.408/.495 with four homers, a triple, four doubles, 21 runs scored and nine RBIs. The challenge, he admitted, was improving his numbers against left-handed pitching.
“I feel way more comfortable against righties because I’ve had way more at-bats off them, but every time I get a lefty, I look at it as a challenge,” he said. “I got straight into two-strike mode, but it’s definitely something I’m still working on.”
2019 (Double-A Tulsa, Triple-A Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Dodgers)
It took a little less than three months for Lux to find a new challenge.
Starting the season back in the Texas League as MLB.com’s No. 70 overall prospect following an appearance at big league Spring Training, he went 4-for-4 and fell a double shy of the cycle in the fourth game of the year on April 8. The then-21-year-old put up back-to-back four-hit games on May 22-23 to get his average up to .329 and his OPS to a circuit-best .985.
Lux batted leadoff for the North Division at the All-Star Game on June 25 that turned out to be his Texas League swan song. He was promoted to Triple-A two days later, taking with him a .313/.375/.521 slash line.
To say Lux took the Pacific Coast League by storm is an understatement. He went 8-for-13 in his first three games and hit safely in his first 16 contests. On July 17, he knocked two long balls and drove in five runs at Iowa, then went 5-for-6 with a pair of doubles and another homer less than 24 hours later.
Those performances followed an appearance for the National League in the All-Star Futures Game in Cleveland.
“Everyone here is pretty much in awe of what he’s doing,” Oklahoma City manager Travis Barbary said. “When he gets a double, everyone’s thinking, ‘Really? Here we go again.’ Then, he hits another homer and you can only think, ‘Really?’ There’s a little bit of sarcasm in that, but I think everyone here knows we haven’t seen someone be this hot before. Even my hitting coach, Scott Coolbaugh, said that he hasn’t seen a hitter on a run like this. In the gap, out of the park, all over the place — if he gets his pitch, he’s not gonna miss it.”
Lux’s PCL average remained above .400 through Aug. 27. And after hitting .392/.478/.719 with 13 homers, three triples, 18 doubles, 54 runs and 39 RBIs in only 49 games, he moved from the Triple-A Dodgers to the big league version.
“Gavin’s earned this opportunity,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts told reporters. “I think that’s kind of plain and simple.”
Promoted on Sept. 2, he again hit the ground running by picking up two hits and scoring three times in his Major League debut against the Rockies. His first big league homer came eight days later when he went deep off against Orioles southpaw Tanner Scott while coming up a triple short of the cycle. In 23 games with the NL West champs, Lux batted .240 with two dingers, a triple, four doubles, seven walks, 12 runs and nine RBIs.
Brian Stultz is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @brianjstultz.