If the Dodgers organization was concerned that Indian Trail graduate Gavin Lux would struggle making the jump from Double-A to Triple-A, Lux has literally eviscerated those worries.
The question now, at least among Dodgers fans, seems to be how quickly Lux can get to Los Angeles.
While that notion is likely premature from an organizational standpoint, Lux has become the Dodgers’ most talked-about prospect — at least right now — following his torrid run since being called up from Double-A Tulsa (Okla.) to Triple-A Oklahoma City on June 27.
Through Thursday’s game against the Iowa Cubs, Lux has hit safely in all 15 games with Oklahoma City and has reached base in 28 straight games overall going back to his time with Tulsa.
He’s slashing a ridiculous .531/.577/1.063 in Triple-A, and he’s taken his offense to a level that’s turned heads all around professional baseball the last few days.
The left-handed-hitting Lux homered in five consecutive games through Thursday, giving him seven already with Oklahoma City. From Tuesday through Thursday, in three games against the I-Cubs, Lux compiled offensive numbers that were almost unbelievable.
On Tuesday, he went 4-for-5 with a homer, three runs, two RBI and a walk. He followed that up Wednesday by going 2-for-4 with two homers, two runs, five RBI and a walk.
On Thursday, Lux went 5-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, three runs and three RBI.
Compile those numbers, all from the leadoff spot: In three games, Lux was 11-for-15 with four homers, two doubles, eight runs, 10 RBI and two walks.
On both Wednesday and Thursday night, Lux was one of the three top prospects highlighted nightly for their performances on MLB Network’s Quick Pitch.
It isn’t supposed to be that easy, and Lux has a close family member who would know firsthand.
On Thursday afternoon, longtime Carthage baseball coach Augie Schmidt — Lux’s uncle — called the News just to talk about the unreal numbers his nephew has been putting up.
Drafted No. 2 overall in 1982 by the Toronto Blue Jays after winning the Golden Spikes Award at the University of New Orleans as the nation’s top amateur player, Schmidt never made it to the big leagues before finding his role as one of the most successful small-college coaches in the country.
Schmidt, who peaked at Triple-A, knows how difficult it is to rise through the minors.
“What he’s doing is ridiculous,” Schmidt said of Lux. “It’s not that easy. I didn’t hit like he’s hitting right now when I dreamed about hitting. I don’t think people understand how difficult it is what he’s doing. ... It’s pretty miraculous. Pretty cool stuff.
“... I played a lot of ball in my life and never had a streak like this.”
Schmidt has been a mentor for Lux since Lux was a young kid, and he said they talk “pretty much every day.”
“He’s a pretty well-grounded kid,” Schmidt said. “He talks about his plan against whichever pitcher is starting. It’s pretty cool stuff, man.”
As Schmidt noted, of course Lux is due to cool off. He’s not going to hit .500 all season in Triple-A.
But even if that inevitable cool-off arrives, Lux, still just 21, has been on a meteoric rise that’s lasted almost a full two seasons now.
Drafted in the first round (No. 20 overall) by the Dodgers out of Indian Trail in 2016, Lux struggled in his first professional season in the Class A Midwest League in 2017.
But he blossomed last summer between Class A (Advanced) Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) and Tulsa, earning a non-roster invite to the Dodgers’ spring training camp this season.
He was assigned back to Double-A, where he continued on his torrid pace from 2018, slashing .313/.375/.521 with 13 homers over 64 games in the Texas League before earning his promotion.
He was a starter in the Texas League All-Star Game and competed in the MLB Futures Game in Cleveland a week before the MLB All-Star Game.
In the process, Lux has ascended to the Dodgers’ No. 2 prospect, behind only catcher Keibert Ruiz, according to MLB Pipeline. He’s now the No. 31 overall prospect in MLB.
Despite the rapid ascent, however, it’s likely the Dodgers will be cautious with Lux’s development. A middle infielder who plays both second base and shortstop, Lux has had some throwing issues and probably isn’t ready defensively for the majors.
Also, the Dodgers are running away with the National League West and don’t really need minor-league reinforcements to bolster a loaded big-league roster.
As the July 31 trade deadline approaches, Lux’s name might come up in trade rumors, as he’d be a hot commodity for any team looking to send a current MLB standout to the Dodgers for a coveted prospect.
Again, though, with such a commanding lead in the NL West, the Dodgers probably won’t have much urgency to trade a prospect for a rental player.
As mlb.com’s Daniel Kramer wrote on Thursday, “Given the way (Lux is) hitting, the club almost certainly wouldn’t part with what has become arguably its most coveted prospect.”
Lux will certainly be a candidate to be called up to Los Angeles in September when rosters expand.
Whatever the case, Lux is at the whim of Dodgers’ brass as to when he gets that call to the big leagues. But if he keeps hitting like this, he’ll just keep making it more difficult for the Dodgers to keep him in the minors.