What to expect from Dodgers' Lux in the bigs

September 2nd, 2019

If it's possible, the best team in the National League and perhaps in all of baseball got better on Monday. The Dodgers called up Gavin Lux, one of the top prospects in the game and one of the hottest hitters in Triple-A since he arrived there in late June.

He could get an immediate opportunity for at least some semi-regular at-bats, and manager Dave Roberts told reporters that Lux, the Dodgers' top prospect, will start at second base against the Rockies on Monday. Though his natural position is shortstop, he has gotten exposure to second base and made seven of his last 14 starts there for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Los Angeles' two primary second basemen this year have been Enrique Hernandez, who's batting just .244/.315/.439, and All-Star Max Muncy, who's sidelined with a small fracture in his right wrist.

The 21-year-old Lux ranks No. 9 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list and batted .347/.421/.607 with 26 homers and 10 steals in 113 games between Double-A and Triple-A this season. He narrowly missed out on leading all Minor League shortstops in all three slash categories for the second straight year, as the Rays' Jake Cronenworth has a slightly higher on-base percentage at .428. Lux has devastated Triple-A pitching, batting .392/.478/.719 with 13 homers in 49 games at Oklahoma City.

Lux began preparing for a professional baseball career at a young age, growing up around the game as the nephew of Augie Schmidt, the No. 2 overall pick and the Golden Spikes Award winner in 1982. Schmidt has been the head coach at NCAA Division III Carthage (Wis.) since 1988 and helped mold Lux into a rare first-round selection out of a Wisconsin high school. The 20th overall choice in 2016, he signed for $2,314,500.

Lux has developed rapidly since struggling offensively and defensively in his first full year as a pro in 2017. His bat started to pick up in the final two months of that season and has continued to improve since.

The Dodgers aren't afraid to give postseason roles to rookies who prove themselves. Four years ago, Corey Seager went from making his big league debut in September to starting in the playoffs in October. Lux is talented enough to do the same for a club seeking its first championship since 1988 after coming close with World Series losses in 2017 and 2018.

Here's a breakdown of Lux on a tool-by-tool basis:

Hit: A left-handed hitter, Lux has made consistent contact throughout his career but didn't take off until he added strength and began incorporating his legs more. He has developed into one of the best hitting prospects in baseball and controls the strike zone better than most players his age. He's a career .305 hitter with a .383 on-base percentage in the Minors, and he should post similar numbers in the Majors in his prime.

Power: Coming out of high school, Lux projected as a potential 15-home run threat, but he has revised those expectations significantly upward. The Dodgers helped him add a greater launch angle to his stroke and he now drives the ball much more consistently in the air. He has a quicker bat and more strength than most middle infielders, giving him at least 25-homer pop.

Run: Lux's speed draws solid to plus grades from scouts, and he also has good instincts on the bases. He has 52 steals in 77 Minor League attempts (68 percent) and could swipe 20 bags per season if he refines his skills.

Arm: Lux has solid arm strength, enough to make most of the throws at shortstop, but he has had issues with his accuracy. That led to 61 errors in 208 games at short during his first three pro seasons, though he has committed just 13 miscues in 91 contests there this year.

Field: While Lux has the quickness, soft hands and enough arm to play shortstop, some scouts still believe he's destined to become a full-time second baseman. He's a more reliable defender at the keystone and not as gifted as Seager at short. He projects as an average shortstop or a solid second baseman, and his bat should make him a star at either spot.