Just who is the Dodgers best SS prospect?
Based on early season prospect rankings the answer would be the 2016 number one pick Gavin Lux, but is it? From what I can tell, the Dodgers have three shortstops on their Great Lakes roster or at least two.
Gavin Lux – the 2016 number one pick didn’t play his first game this year until late April and was in a early season funk until May 11th when he started to pick up his offense. Lux has shown a good eye with a 100 point spread between his BA and OBP. That is the only good offensive news so far. He strikes out at a good clip for a guy who has yet to hit a home run this year and has only five XBH in 123 at-bats. He’s only nineteen and won’t turn 20 until late November. Given he was considered the best shortstop in the draft not named Delvin Perez I find it curious that he’s splitting time at SS with Brendon Davis. Instead of just planting him at SS once he joined the Loons, he’s started fifteen games at 2nd base, and fifteen games at shortstop. My gut says to rank Brendon Davis ahead of Lux, but for now, I’ll comply with the scouting reports that say Lux is a true SS and that Davis profiles more as a 3rd baseman. For now.
Brendon Davis – Davis is only a few months older than Lux even though he has been in the Dodger system since 2015. With Lux not joining the team until April 20th, Davis got many starts at shortstop, but even with Lux now on the team, Davis continues to start some games at shortstop. This year he has started 11 games at 2nd, 14 games at 3rd, and 19 games at shortstop. His bat picked up this year and even though he’s dropped off in May he still has an OPS of .858 in a tough offensive league. That OPS is good enough for 12th place in the league and he hits in over half his games in one of the tougher pitching parks in the league. Even tonight, Brendon Davis was playing SS and Lux 2nd base. For good measure, Davis almost went for a cycle tonight.
Drew Jackson – received in the trade for Chase De Jong from the Mariners during spring training. Before you scoff too loudly, remember it was almost a year ago the Dodgers turned a non-asset like Zach Lee into Chris Taylor. You might know Taylor as the Dodgers starting CF and the best hitter on the team in May. Anyway, Drew Jackson is repeating A+ ball and is on the Dodgers California League team. Headed into this year Jackson was a speed guy with little power. This year he has discovered some power but that might simply be the California League. In his debut professional season, he stole 47 bases while getting caught only four times in just 59 games. That is kind of insane. Too bad he didn’t keep that up. I guess the catchers/pitchers have caught up to him because this year in 37 games, he’s only stolen six bases while getting caught five times. They say he has a cannon for an arm with soft hands. If Drew can’t find his bat he might be the next Dodger prospect to be converted to a pitcher. Imagine the value of a relief pitcher who can really pinch run and play defense?
Oneil Cruz – the baby of the bunch, Cruz is just eighteen, and at 6’6 is probably too tall for either SS or 3rd base. He has however started sixteen games at SS this year for the Loons compared to twenty-two at 3rd base. The left-handed hitting Cruz was in a huge slump to start the year but things have started to pick up with thirteen hits in his last forty-five at-bats. Cruz has now gotten his May OPS up to .732 after compiling a .358 OPS in April. The only reason Cruz is last is that I simply can’t take it seriously that he could play shortstop at the major league level. He’s 6’6 now, and at only 18 he’s still a growing boy. He’s lanky now, but Joel Guzman was lanky at 18 and hulked out. Cruz seems like one of those left side infielders who ends up at 1st base though the scouts say he can handle 3rd base. We shall see, but for now, I don’t consider him a shortstop prospect.
As I stated above it is a curious thing the Dodgers are doing with Lux/Davis/Cruz. Davis has played 2nd/SS/3rd. Lux has played 2nd/SS. Cruz has played SS/3rd.
Are they taking versatility to a new level with their prospects? Or are they simply undecided about who should be the Loon shortstop?
I’d really like to see Drew Jackson promoted to Tulsa to play SS, and find out if he can hit higher levels of pitching because if not, maybe they should get on that pitching transformation.