Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers have had high hopes for Gavin Lux since they selected him in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft and he developed into one of baseball’s top prospects by 2019.
Lux has spent parts of four seasons with the Dodgers and made the Opening Day roster this year for the second time, but he has yet to live up to the hype. However, this season presents best chance to change that and establish himself as a key member of the lineup.
“I mean, last year I definitely had opportunities and definitely didn’t play how I wanted to,” Lux said. “I think this year is the first time I’m going to have some runway and some leash. So it’s definitely an opportunity I’ve got to take advantage of and just have fun.”
While Lux struggled for a majority of the 2021 season, he hit .360/.467/.500 with four extra-base hits and nine RBI over the final 17 games after being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
He then continued his hot hitting in the playoffs, reaching base five times in 11 plate appearances against the San Francisco Giants in the National League Division Series.
Lux has also added versatility to his skillset by learning to play third base and the outfield, but following the trade of AJ Pollock, Lux has a clear path to play time at second base.
That was the position he started at on Opening Day, finishing 1-for-2 with two RBI and two walks.
While the two-run hit was encouraging, it was the walks that showed Lux may have taken the next step as a player by improving on his ability to work the count and remain patient, which he showed a knack for in the Minor Leagues.
“Control the strike zone, wait out for a good pitch to hit,” Lux said about his walks. “That’s my game, for sure.”
Lux credits a change in mindset at the plate, improved patience and not trying to do too much at the plate for helping him find the success he’s had beginning last September.
“I think it’s part of his journey,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I do think this is the best I’ve seen him as far as really understanding who he is as a Major League player. For him to continue to take good at-bats shows the growth.
“I’m really excited with where he’s at and where he’s going to be this year.”
Lux has now experienced success and failure at the Major League level, which makes it a challenge to figure out which player he really is in his limited time. But the 24-year-old has a clear opportunity to prove he can live up to the expectatios and become an everyday player.
“He knows how we value him as a ballplayer and he’s going to get opportunities,” Roberts said after the Opening Day win. “It’s up to him to make good on them.
“With his work this offseason, in Spring Training, obviously today was a really good day. The thing is he’s got to do it again tomorrow and the next day. That’s where you see if you really cement yourself as an everyday ballplayer.”
Trea Turner: Dodgers won’t let Lux forget Opening Day slide
After tying the game with a two-out single, Lux scored the go-ahead run from first base on Mookie Betts’ RBI double down the left-field line. In doing so, Lux went into a bellyflop of a slide onto home plate.
“It was pretty funny is what it was. It was bad,” said Trea Turner, who has seemingly mastered the art of sliding.
“I saw it happen at third base. He almost missed third and fell at third. I’m just glad he made it home and there wasn’t a play. I’m glad there wasn’t a throw from shortstop. That’s something funny that we’re definitely not going to let him live down.”
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