LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year provide a snapshot of the wide net management casts to keep the talent flowing.
Gavin Lux, the club's Hitting Prospect of the Year, was a first-round pick out of a Wisconsin high school in the 2016 Draft, bucking the industry stereotype that cold-weather high school draftees are high risk because they lack game opportunities afforded players from warm-weather states. He's the Dodgers' No. 1 prospect and MLB Pipeline's No. 9 prospect in the game.
By contrast, Pitching Prospect of the Year Josiah Gray was acquired last offseason in the trade that sent Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer to the Reds in a salary swap that brought the Dodgers injured pitcher Homer Bailey's hefty contract. With so many big names and big contracts involved, Minor League acquisitions Gray and Jeter Downs received little attention. Gray is the Dodgers' No. 4 prospect and checks in at No. 98 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100.
Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.
The nephew of 1982 Golden Spikes Award winner Augie Schmidt, Lux signed for $2,314,500 and struggled in his first Minor League season, but he broke out in 2018 and earned his way into the Major Leagues with a phenomenal 2019. He displayed power and shook off throwing worries from Spring Training.
Lux batted a combined .347 with 26 homers and 76 RBIs in 113 games between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City, was named a Texas League midseason and postseason All-Star, and was a Futures Game selection.
"I see composure, there's a confidence, it's a really good skill set," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Meanwhile, Gray has made meteoric strides as a pitcher, considering he spent most of his first two seasons at Le Moyne College (Division II) as a shortstop. He became a full-time pitcher in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2017, was drafted by the Reds with a supplemental second-round pick in '18 and signed for $772,500.
With the athleticism of a middle infielder and a mid-90s fastball, Gray took the next step this year with stops at three levels, refining his secondary pitches, a slider and changeup.
Combined, the 21-year-old Gray was 11-2 with a 2.28 ERA, 0.992 WHIP and 147 strikeouts in 130 innings while allowing only three home runs.
"He's an incredible kid, an unbelievable athlete, and a lot of it was tapping into the athleticism," said Connor McGuiness, Gray's pitching coach at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga before the midseason callup to Double-A.
"He's still looking for his identity, and I believe he found as the year went on what it takes to be a professional pitcher. He's a special kid. He's learning how to attack hitters, develop a pregame routine. It was cool to see success come with that. We couldn't have asked for a better year for the kid."