The Dodgers’ 2018 Minor League Player of the Year has been named a top-10 shortstop prospect by MLB Pipeline.
Today's crop of young #MLB shortstops stacks up well against most in history, and there’s another wave of talent on the way. Here’s our Top 10 SS Prospects list for 2019, led by #Padres' phenom Fernando Tatis Jr: https://t.co/dZrRmL3vQg pic.twitter.com/L5p98dpTJj
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) January 23, 2019
Gavin Lux, a 21-year old middle infielder, was placed 9th on the list that is currently stacked with talent. He was also named as the #40 ranked prospect in baseball by Baseball America.
Lux was drafted in the 1st round, 20th overall, of the 2016 draft. He finished last season as the Dodgers #4 prospect and the MLB #82 prospect.
He was also named as the highest riser on MLB Pipeline’s list due to his breakout season in 2018.
The No. 20 overall pick in the 2016 Draft, Lux struggled offensively (.244/.331/.362) and defensively (19 errors in 65 games at shortstop) in his first full pro season. He rebounded in 2018 to lead Minor League shortstops in all three slash categories (.324/.399/.514), reached Double-A at age 20 and batted .424 in the playoffs to help Tulsa win the Texas League championship. His throwing accuracy remains a work in progress, however.
What the Experts Say
Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs had this to say about Lux back in September.
Lux was particularly impressive in the concluding week-plus of the minor league’s regular season, recording strikeout and walk rates of 15.9% and 11.4%, respectively, while producing a .189 isolated-power mark and 8.0 speed score, the last of which metrics (i.e. speed score) correlates pretty strongly with baserunning runs at the major-league level. As noted Longenhagen recently in a chat, a swing change is likely responsible for Lux’s success this season.
Here is what Eric Longenhagen said about his newfound power.
Lux, a former glove-first first round HS shortstop suddenly hitting for power in the Cal League. Some of it is driven by the hitting environment but there has also been a change in his batted ball profle that indicates a swing change has been made, and some of this is probably real. Groundball rate has dropped from 53% to 40%.
MLB Pipeline gave a similar report on Lux last season.
Lux found success at the plate as he started to use his legs more in his left-handed swing. He added strength last offseason and is driving the ball more in the air, changes that coupled with his bat speed could make him a 15-20 homer threat on an annual basis. He controls the strike zone well for a 20-year-old and should provide more offense than most middle infielders.
Lux has the solid speed and the savvy to steal 20 bases per year, though there are diverging opinions as to how well that quickness translates to his defense. He has reliable hands but he can look more stiff than athletic at shortstop. Though he has a strong arm, he has mechanical issues that lead to throwing errors at shortstop and he’s much more reliable at second base.
Kyle Glaser of Baseball America said this when asked if Lux could become a 20/20 player at second base.
20/20 may be a little high for Lux. You’re looking more at 35+ doubles, 15ish home runs, 15ish stolen bases. Maybe he gets to 20-homers in his best years. But he’ll do all that hitting .280 or better, with an OBP of .360 or better. That’s a darn, darn good player.
When asked if Lux is enough of a high end talent to make the Dodgers avoid acquiring a second baseman this offseason, Glasser said yes and that he is a legitimate long-term solution at second base.
Here are his scouting grades from MLB Pipeline. If you want to learn more about the 20-80 scouting scale, Fangraphs has a great breakdown here. If you want a quick explanation, 50 is average and 55 is above average.
What To Expect
Lux dominated high-A during his 88 games there last season. He was then promoted to AA for his final 28 games. He continued to hit at a high level in AA. Expect him to open the 2019 season at AA and get promoted to AAA rather quickly if he keeps hitting well.
A 2019 September call up isn’t out of the question but a 2020 debut seems more likely.
Although he is currently a shortstop, he seems to be the Dodgers’ second baseman of the future.
[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/dodgers-prospect-jeter-downs-named-in-mlb-pipeline-top-10-at-second-base/2019/01/22/” type=”big” color=”red”] DODGERS PROSPECT JETER DOWNS NAMED IN MLB PIPELINE TOP-10 AT SECOND BASE[/button]