LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers first-round pick Gavin Lux has committed to play college ball at Arizona State, but he doesn't sound like someone who will be a Sun Devil anytime soon.
"Right now I definitely want to play professional baseball. I'm kind of set on doing that," Lux said via conference call on Thursday night. "For me I just want to get out there and get going as soon as possible. I'm pumped up to start my career right now."
It probably helps that Lux was picked by the Dodgers at No. 20 overall, well above where most had the Indian Trails High School shortstop from Kenosha, Wisconsin ranked. At 33 on MLB Pipeline and 36 on Baseball America, Lux could have been looking at a pick with a slot value of roughly $1.8-1.9 million. The slot value for the No. 20 pick is $2,316,300. It doesn't necessarily mean Lux will get that amount, but the Dodgers could offer under slot and still be above where he was expected to go, which in turn could save money for riskier picks down the line.
Last year the Dodgers signed four high school players — outfielder Mitch Hansen, shortstop Brendon Davis, and pitchers Imani Abdullah and Logan Crouse — and all four signed for over-slot money, especially Abdullah and Crouse, who were picked after the 10th round, where any bonus amount over $100,000 counts against the bonus pool.
"Just like last year, we're set up to take more high school players if they're there and they're signable. It always gets trickier as you go down the draft the signability part of the equation gets harder and harder. How many guys we'll be able to take, I don't know," Gasparino said. "I hope these high school kids' demands are reasonable and we can go get some more."
Andrew Lowenthal and Hank Sargent of Jet Sports are Lux's advisors.
Not that the Dodgers aren't high on Lux. Billy Gasparino, the club's director of amateur scouting, said he had Lux higher on his board than shortstop Delvin Perez, who was ranked by many among the top 10 prospects in the draft but reportedly tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Perez ended up falling to No. 23 to St. Louis.
As for Lux, he hit .531 in his senior season of high school, with six home runs, 10 doubles, four triples, 23 steals and 29 walks in 26 games.
One of the knocks on Lux was that Wisconsin didn't exactly afford him the best competition during his high school games, putting a damper on his video game numbers above. But he also played in various tournaments and showcases during the summer as well.
"Going from Wisconsin high school baseball to the summer circuit at the end of the year was a little challenging, going up against that level of pitching," Lux said. "But after a couple tournaments, a couple games, a couple showcases, I kind of got used to facing that competition, but then it became like just another day."
"I know the Wisconsin stigma throws some people off, but he has played in some highly competitive leagues over the summer against some of the best players," Gasparino said. This isn't some raw kid. This guy is advanced, and he knows what he's doing on the field."
Lux said some people have compared him to Chase Utley, and described himself as "a high-contact guy who could run pretty well and play defense."
Lux is considered relatively small, though listed by MLB at 6'2, 170 pounds. The Dodgers list Lux at 175 pounds. Maybe by next week he'll be 180. But whatever the weight and frame, the Dodgers like the upward trend.
"He's grown over the last year, gaining 20-25 pounds. One of the things we were impressed with was just how much strength he put on over the last six months," Gasparino said. "He may look small, but he's more physical than you think."
Gasparino said should shortstop be occupied by the time Lux is ready for the majors, second base would be a natural fallback position for him. Though that's pretty far in the future, and the club likes what they have now in Lux.
"We feel this type of player does very well historically in the draft. Several of the first-round picks over the years who have the same skill set have done well. We just thought it was an undervalued or under-appreciated skill set," Gasparino explained. "Left-handed-hitting shortstops that are athletic and can hit, usually overachieve more than underachieve. We just think it's a really good package with our first pick."
Left-handed shortstops who can hit and are athletic. Sounds familiar.