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Branch Rickey honors for Gavin Lux and Josiah Gray

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Dodgers annual award to their minor league player and pitcher of the year given to Lux and Gray

Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Today, the Dodgers announced that infielder Gavin Lux was named their Branch Rickey Player of the Year winner. and right-hander Josiah Gray was their Branch Rickey Pitcher of the Year awardee.

Josiah Gray will join Lux for a pregame ceremony this Saturday before the game against the Colorado Rockies where they will receive their awards.

Lux and Gray both played at Tulsa this season but Lux was promoted to Oklahoma City prior to Gray’s promotion to Tulsa in July.

Lux, who also was the Branch Rickey Player of the Year in 2018 joins current teammate Joc Pederson as one of eight players or pitchers who have won this award twice. Like Lux, four individuals won this award in back-to-back years:

Billy Ashley (1993-94), Paul Konerko (1996-97), Chad Billingsley (2004-05) and James McDonald (2007-08).

Three other players, Joe Thurston (2000, 2002), Zach Lee (2013, 2015) and Pederson (2010, 2012) had a one-year gap between their awards.

The award for Lux is another September highlight where already this month Lux was named Baseball America’s Player of the Year and he also made his major league debut. Lux is also MLB Pipeline’s No. 2 overall prospect.

Lux played at both Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City this season and in over 519 PA, Lux hit a combined .347/.421/.607 with 25 doubles, 8 triples and 26 home runs.

Gray and infielder Jeter Downs were part of the Dodger trade with the Cincinnati Reds last December where the teams exchanged major league players Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer from the Dodgers for Homer Bailey from the Reds. Gray and Downs were the minor league players that the Reds included in the trade.

Notably MLB Pipeline had both Gray (No. 76) and Jeter Downs (No. 88) in their current top 100 prospect list.

Josiah Gray pitched at three different levels this season and he was outstanding at each of them.

JoJo Gray
JoJo Gray
Rich Crimi ~ Tulsa Drillers

In an article published earlier this year, Great Lakes Loons broadcaster Brad Tunney talked about his impressions of Josiah Gray.

“[Gray] talked about that trade in December as really introducing him to the business of baseball and just having to go right along with it and making sure it didn’t derail him or set him back at all. A lot of guys who get traded in the minor leagues talk about, ‘Well does the team that traded me trade me because they did not want me?’ and, ‘Did the team that acquired me really want me?’ Mentally it can be tough to juggle those two thoughts. It seemed like Gray showed up to the ballpark everyday and had such great self-awareness and self-confidence and you’re clearly seeing that in terms of the production.

“The fastball and the slider were really all he needed at this level specifically, and I mean in five starts — for one of the first times in my five years here — the Dodgers had under-assigned a player. They over-assign guys a lot, and to their credit, it typically pays off. But a guy that probably could have started in High-A this year and had no problem at all ... that’s probably why we’ve seen him make two jumps now in the same season.”

This award is likely no surprise to Rancho Cucamonga Quakes broadcaster Mike Lindskog who talked about Gray in his conversation with True Blue LA earlier this month.

At one point I said, ‘This guy is the second best pitcher in the California League currently behind only Mackenzie Gore of the Padres’.

Gray really opened eyes here and all he did was dominate. Doesn’t throw mid-90s but the guy just gets out and I’m really excited to see how far he can go because while Jeter Downs had a great year here as well, coming into the year, our perception was that Downs was the headline piece and Gray was a nice complementary piece. But now we think, ‘Wow, Josiah Gray is a real pitcher. This is exciting. How far can he go?’

Still, he’s going to have to continue to prove it and that’s a good thing for him. I don’t think it’s going to be handed to him. But again, he dominated here. I know he’s throwing the ball well at Double-A Tulsa and I think he will keep it up next year if he continues to move. He’s gonna have himself in the same boat as Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin next September.”

Overall in 2019, Gray pitched 26 games (25 starts), Gray pitched 130 total innings (23⅓ IP at Great Lakes, 67⅓ IP at Rancho Cucamonga and 39⅓ IP at Tulsa).

He finished with an 11-2 record and a 2.28 ERA. He gave up 39 runs (33 earned) and 98 hits. Gray struck out 147 and had 31 walks.