first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error C Will Smith1B Cody Bellinger2B Max MuncySS Corey Seager3B Justin Turner Editor’s note: This is the Thursday, July 18 edition of the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.You could draw a straight line from June 2016 to July 2019 and maybe claim you saw it all coming. Gavin Lux was the Dodgers’ first-round draft pick three years ago, chosen 20th overall. Plucked straight out of high school at 18 years old, Lux figured to need time to matriculate to the majors. Four players chosen ahead of him have already debuted, as have 37 players chosen after him (including Will Smith). Now, at 21, Lux is forcing the Dodgers to at least think about promoting him soon. He’s batting .531 (34 for 64) with seven homers in his first 13 games at Triple-A.First-round picks historically have a better chance of reaching the major leagues than later-round picks. Probabilistically, Lux had a leg up on the competition from the moment he was drafted. But Lux wasn’t projected to be a plus-plus hitter with plus power when he was drafted. Only this season did his bat morph into his calling card. I’m not sure what that means for Lux’s ability to contribute to the major league club in 2019. Even if Lux is only part of a middle infield timeshare, the Dodgers figure to be a better team with him in 2020.Speaking of 2020, let’s look at that projected position player depth chart.center_img LF Joc PedersonCF A.J. PollockRF Alex VerdugoBench: Austin Barnes, Kiké Hernandez, Chris Taylor, Gavin LuxOthers: Matt Beaty, Kyle Garlick, Edwin Rios, Keibert RuizA few caveats:1. Don’t take that as gospel.2. Bellinger is getting the plurality of his playing time in right field, and not first base, because the Dodgers are worried about him re-injuring his shoulder. The shoulder subluxed in April, causing him to miss a couple games. My understanding is that Bellinger might undergo a cleanup procedure after the season. If so, he would be able to begin next season healthier than he is today. That’s why I’m comfortable penciling him in as the starting first baseman for 2020.3. The jury is still out on Muncy’s glove at second base, at least long term, but I have to put him somewhere.4. Dave Roberts might revert to a heavier platooning arrangement than we’ve seen to this point in 2019. Go back and re-read my first caveat.OK. Back to Lux. Muncy is blocking him at second base, kind of. Corey Seager is definitely blocking him at shortstop. Muncy is under team control through 2022, Seager through 2021. If Lux is only the team’s ninth-most frequently used position player in a year, he could conceivably expect 250 to 450 plate appearances. That’s a valuable player. Lux is also a left-handed hitting middle infielder, and the Dodgers have a couple really good ones already. So on paper, Lux isn’t nearly as valuable to the Dodgers as he would be on most, if not every other team.The same can’t be said for Smith, who is perhaps the best-hitting catcher in the organization right now, and will have a clear path to everyday playing time in 2020 (if not sooner). On the pitching side, Triple-A starters Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin were mowing down major league hitters in spring training. Gonsolin has already made his regular season debut. With Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu becoming free agents after this season, there’s a clear path for May and Gonsolin to join the rotation in 2020. Ross Stripling and Julio Urías might have something to say about that, and the Dodgers will surely have some interest in bringing back Ryu and/or Hill. The larger point is this: if 2020 is a typical season and the Dodgers need more than six regular starting pitchers, you can see why they would prefer to keep May and/or Gonsolin.With less than two weeks to go before the trade deadline, I wonder how vulnerable that leaves Lux. This isn’t a proprietary thought; it’s an open secret around Major League Baseball. Certainly teams have asked the Dodgers about Lux, and the Dodgers would be wise to ask for a lot in return. Right now, his trade value might be higher than any player in the organization. Yet his value to the Dodgers is lower than that of their other upper-level prospects. That’s the kind of disparity that leaves a player more vulnerable to a trade. Again, I wonder how vulnerable Lux is. There have been concerns about his defense at second base, mostly on the throwing side. He still hasn’t committed an error at second base in the regular season, but he did commit 10 as a shortstop in 53 starts in Double-A. Take that with a grain of salt. Minor league scoring decisions are at least as subjective as major league scoring decisions. If the scouting and the scoring are aligned, however, Lux could be perceived as a better fit in the American League, where he can DH. If nothing else, Lux has become a bona fide prospect who reaches the big leagues because of his bat, not his glove. That’s no small transformation in three short years.For that reason, if the Dodgers manage to swap Lux for a difference-making reliever (or two) at the deadline, they can still look back on the pick and claim a story of success rather than failure. They will have maximized the value of the pick. That’s the kind of story general managers like to tell after a trade. It makes the pain of losing a homegrown prospect go down easier. We’ll find out soon enough if Andrew Friedman finds the story applicable to Gavin Lux.-J.P.Thanks for reading the Thursday, July 18 edition of the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.When the lights go down in the cityThe best policy – Kenley Jansen’s comments after Wednesday night’s game upset Dave Roberts.YouTube reruns – The Dodgers’ bullpen lost another late lead in the series finale in Philadelphia. Sit down, be humble – Kiké Hernandez called on the governor of his native Puerto Rico to resign.Freesed out – Hector Neris was suspended three games yesterday for hitting David Freese with a pitch. Today he ticked off the rest of the Dodgers.Historic figures – RIP to a pair of former Stockton Ports teammates: Pumpsie Green and Ernie Broglio.last_img

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