The regular season portion of the minor-league season has ended. The Dodgers are sending a few affiliates to the postseason, but everyone else is done. With that comes this year’s Dodgers Digest’s Minor League Players Of The Year.
Last year, the honors went to Gavin Lux and Tony Gonsolin — both of whom have made it to the majors in 2019.
Hitter Of The Year
SS Gavin Lux
Lux had a breakout 2018 season to earn this same honor. It was an impressive showing for a 20-year-old. He began the season with Double-A Tulsa after finishing up there last season. He hit .313/.375/.521, which actually was a little “worse” (for lack of a better term) than he did there last season. Once he got to Triple-A Oklahoma City, he took the Pacific Coast League by storm. He hit .398/.478/.719 (not a typo). He had 78 hits, and 35 (18 doubles, 4 triples, 13 homers) went for extra bases.
His worst month was April, which saw him post an .841 OPS. The outlier month was July, which saw him compile a 1.355 OPS. Every other month, however, had a .955 OPS or better. He had an amazing offensive season.
Lux has completely bought into the Dodgers’ developmental process, and it shows on the field. He has gone from a glove-first shortstop to solid regular to potential All-Star middle infielder. All his production (coupled with Max Muncy‘s wrist injury) earned him a promotion to the majors — which came last night.
He was the easy choice for this honor and will likely be named the Branch Rickey Award winner for a second consecutive year.
Will Smith had a great year with Triple-A OKC (and even better with Los Angeles), while Jeter Downs made a strong impression in his first year in the organization.
Runners-up: Smith, Downs
Pitcher Of The Year
RHP Josiah Gray
The Dodgers have done a great job developing players in recent years. The latest success story is Gray, who wasn’t even in the org a year ago.
He was acquired with Downs in the Yasiel Puig trade and was a revelation for the Dodgers. He pitched at three levels and was dominant at all of them. He had a 2.25 FIP with Low-A Great Lakes and a 2.59 FIP with High-A Rancho Cucamonga. His overall numbers were among the best of any Dodger minor-league pitcher this season and among the best of any pitcher in the minors. He was great at keeping the ball in the yard (all three homers allowed came in three separate June starts), missed plenty of them and didn’t walk hitters.
Gray showed well in his brief pro debut last season with Greeneville (Reds’ org), but he went to another level with the Dodgers. He, obviously, took to the Dodgers’ developmental staff and even added a curveball to his repertoire as the season progressed. He has gone from back-end starter or swingman to legitimate mid-rotation starter with a chance to go even higher. He could be up as early as next season.
Dustin May had himself a season and in any other season, he might have claimed this honor. Edwin Uceta built off his successful 2018 to be one of the better pitches prospects the system has to offer.
Runners-up: May, Uceta
The All-Prospect team is up next (Monday or Tuesday). It’s always a fun exercise and this year’s team seems particularly stacked.