2020 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Profiles: Will Gavin Lux make an immediate impact?

Gavin Lux forced his way to the majors with a breakout 2019, and while he didn't shine down the stretch for the Dodgers, he put himself firmly in the discussion for an Opening Day job whenever the 2020 season kicks off. Perhaps most impressively, Lux got better as he climbed the rungs in the minors, including an outrageous Triple-A debut that has some seeing superstar potential. 

Numbers to Know

  • Date of Birth: 11/23/1997
  • Height: 6'2"
  • Weight: 190 lb.
  • Prospect Ranks: No. 4 at Baseball America, No. 2 at MLB Pipeline, No. 3 at Baseball Prospectus 
  • Scott White's Rank: No. 4 Fantasy prospect
  • 2019: (AA) 64 G, .313/.375/.521, 13 HR, 24 XBH, 7 SB (70%), 9.7 BB%, 20.7 K%; (AAA) 49 G, .392/.478/.719, 13 HR, 35 XBH, 3 SB (50%), 14.2 BB%, 18.1 K%; (MLB) 23 G, .240/.305/.400, 2 HR, 7 XBH, 8.5 BB%, 29.2 K%
  • Career: 396 G, .305/.383/.483, 48 HR, 156 XBH, 52 SB (67.5%), 11.2 BB%, 18.3 K%

Known Injury History

Played through hamstring issue in 2019

Strengths

Lux has always had the contact skills, but he's made exactly the kind of power progression you hope to see as a teenager turns into a grown man, going from seven homers and a .118 ISO as a 19-year-old to 15 and a .190 ISO the following season, before breaking out with 26 homers and a .260 ISO as a 21-year-old in 2019. And not all of it came with the juiced ball in the PCL — Lux had a career-best .208 ISO in Double-A prior to the promotion. That is what has truly elevated him to the ranks of the game's elite prospects, though the stolen base potential and batting average skills are what could really help him stand out for Fantasy. If Lux can become a consistent .290-plus hitter who swipes double-digit bags and hits 25 homers, you're talking about a borderline elite Fantasy option. It's a well-balanced skill set that stands out in an era when everyone is swinging for the fences.

Concerns

As with any young left-handed hitter, Lux's chances of reaching his full potential will come down to his ability to hit same-handed pitching. He showed some improvement in this regard in 2019, posting a .299/.355/.485 line against lefties in the minors. But there are issues once you look under the hood; Lux still struck out 31.8% of the time and had a BABIP over .400. For his career, Lux is a .226/.292/.328 hitter against lefties, with a 26.4 K%, and that just won't get the job. Perhaps even more concerningly is the Dodgers' willingness to throw even prized prospects' development to the wind and keep them in platoon situations in the majors. Even if Lux breaks camp with the big league club, there's no guarantee he's a true everyday player, and that could hinder his ability to develop into one in the long run. Lux has also had some issues throwing the ball to first base, which could necessitate a move to the outfield or first base and could spoil some of the value he gets from his middle infield positional designation.

Outside Take

"He has pole-to-pole power and is going to get to it in games even though he's still a relatively low-launch angle hitter (nine degrees in the minors, 13 degrees in a small big league sample).

What happens with Lux defensively is somewhat immaterial. He's publicly admitted to having the yips, which impacts the accuracy of his throws. Pure arm strength is not really an issue, but if he keeps one-hopping easy throws to first base, he might need to move off the infield."Eric Longenhagen, FanGraphs

Fantasy Comparison

A best-case scenario probably sees Lux developing into something like 2019 Austin Meadows, another top prospect who needed some time to figure out lefties but blossomed into a borderline superstar as a 24-year-old. That would push Lux into the second or third round discussion at his peak, though I'll need to see more improvement against lefties before I'm ready to peg that as my hope for him. A realistic 2020 scenario could look something like Avisail Garcia's 2019 (.282-61-20-72-10), with lower-than-expected counting stats if the Dodgers limit his exposure against lefties. 

Fantasy Bottom Line

I'm a little more pessimistic about Lux than most, because I'm just not sure he'll hit lefties well enough to hit his ceiling. But there's no question the ceiling is extremely high. I could see a scenario where Lux turns into an Andrew Benintendi type, and while Benintendi has been a significant disappointment, he's still a valuable Fantasy option. I like Lux plenty, but I think I would rather have a healthy Alex Verdugo in Fenway. Still, Lux should be a solid Fantasy option for 2020, and if last year really was the beginning of his improvements against lefties, that Austin Meadows-esque breakout isn't at all out of the question. 

So which sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued first baseman can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Kenta Maeda's huge breakout last season, and find out.

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