Dodgers’ No. 1 Lux ready to start pro career now; Gasparino breaks down day’s draft
By Cary Osborne
After the first day of the 2016 MLB Draft, the Dodgers’ first pick (No. 20 overall) Gavin Lux and Dodgers director of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino gave their thoughts.
Lux, a high school shortstop from Wisconsin committed to Arizona State, said he wants to start his professional career now. He also revealed some Dodger connections to A.J. Ellis and Chase Utley.
Gasparino gave some more insight on the four players selected on Thursday — Lux, University of Louisville catcher Will Smith (32nd overall), Vanderbilt right-hander Jordan Sheffield (36th overall) and Santa Clara right-hander Mitchell White (second round, 65th overall).
On not working out for the Dodgers, but being drafted by them:
“Honestly, yeah a little bit (surprised). I knew they were interested. I didn’t know the level of interest. But I’m happy as I can be and blessed that they took me where they did.”
On knowing fellow Wisconsinite A.J. Ellis:
“Over the winter the past two or three years he comes back to Wisconsin. He’s worked out, lifted and hit at the same facility that I do in the winter, so I’ve gotten to talk with him. He’s had a lot of good insight on a lot of things.”
On signing with the Dodgers:
“Right now I’m definitely, I want to play professional baseball. I’m kind of set on doing that. For me right now I just want to get out there and get going as soon as possible. I’m pumped up to start my career right now.”
On how he dealt with a jump in competition in the past:
“Going from Wisconsin high school baseball to the summer circuit was a little challenging — getting used to the level of competition, the level of pitching. But after a couple of tournaments, a couple of games, a couple of showcases, I kind of got used to seeing that level of competition and it kind of became another day … At first it’s a little bit of kind of a crazy jump, then after a while it gets a little easier.”
On the player he’s compared to the most:
“I’ve heard some people say a Chase Utley. (I’m) kind of more of like a high contact (hitter), can run pretty well and play some pretty good defense.”
“We think he has a lot of athleticism, good hands, enough arm strength to stay at the position. He’s a very good baseball player ,and we really think he’s got a chance to be a really good hitter at the Major League level. It’s a nice mix of talent and skill and a kid who comes form a baseball family, and we think has really high character.”
“A little bit of a late bloomer. He was a shortstop in high school, converted to catcher at Louisville, and it kind of took him a little while for it to sink in at that level at the position. But we think he’s a plus athlete. It’s a plus arm. He can really receive. He can really throw, and he had a really good year this year. He started to hit for power. He’s always had a short compact swing with bat speed, and he kind of took it up another level with power. He controls the zone. He’s a leader in the field. He’s at a great program. His intangibles are off the chart.”
“Sheffield is obviously a well-known, right-hand pitcher from Vanderbilt University. He was a high-profile name out of high school, ended up having Tommy John surgery going to Vanderbilt and pitched extremely well this year. He’s super athletic. He’s a former standout high school football player. We thought one of the better athletes in the draft at any position. He’s up to 96 (mph). It’s a big arm. His changeup has really developed this year into a plus pitch, and his breaking ball has always been a calling card for him. We think his command/control numbers were improved. He’s a competitive kid.”
“He was kind of a second-half performer this year. A little slow coming off Tommy John two years ago. Kind of was a reliever for Santa Clara (his first year), but he’s a 6-4 projectable body right-hander who was up to 95 (mph) late in the year with several games of high strikeout games. It’s a plus slider. He’s big. He’s physical. The arm’s really recovered from Tommy John. We feel like he’s trending up into becoming a mid-rotation starter.”
On Lux’s timeline and playing the same position as Corey Seager:
“One of the things we were impressed with was how much strength he put on in the last six months. He may look kind of smaller size, but he’s more physical than you think. I don’t know exact timeline, but we definitely don’t think he’s a slow mover. As far as backup position, naturally second base if Seager were still at short when he comes up.”
On signing redshirt sophomores Sheffield and White:
“From what we understand both kids are really excited to start their career. The redshirt sophomore, I know it’s still two years of eligibility left, but they are 21. It’s very common for guys to want to sign at this age. Not many people want to go back in the draft as a 22-year-old. So I think we’re in good shape. We’re going call the kids over the next couple of days and try and work something out and hopefully make a deal.”