Gavin Lux Talks Hitting

Gavin Lux is one of most-promising young hitters in the game. He’s also among the most intriguing in terms of presentation at the plate. Ranked second on our 2020 Top 100 Prospects list, the 22-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers infielder has a swing profile that is both atypical and lethal in its execution. Eric Longenhagen saw fit to devote over 100 words to it when putting together Lux’s scouting profile.

The Kenosha, Wisconsin native has made several changes since being drafted 20th overall in 2016 out of Indian Trail High School. The results speak for themselves. Last year, Lux’s left-handed stroke produced a .346/.421/.607 slash line and 26 home runs between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City. A September call-up followed, with Lux logging a .705 OPS over 82 plate appearances in his first taste of major league action.

Lux broke down his mechanics, and his overall approach to hitting, last Friday.

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David Laurila: How would you describe your setup?

Gavin Lux: “I’ve kind of played around with different setups. The most comfortable is with my base a little wider. That helps me feel like I’m in the ground. It’s kind of like how when you’re guarding a guy in basketball you’re not going to be super narrow. So being wider, but not too wide — a little more than shoulder-width apart — is what works for me. I’m a pretty loose mover, so I need some tension to feel strong and like I can do damage.

“I’ve been that way since probably 2018. For me it’s more of an athletic setup. I do a lot of different moves, or unconventional moves, that maybe a lot of people don’t.”

Laurila: Has anything else changed since you entered pro ball?

Lux: “Yeah. I mean, a lot. Now I kind of do like a reverse barrel tip. You see Chris Taylor doing it, also. It helps me delay my back elbow. Before, I’d always get super tight. Laying my barrel off my back shoulder kind of relaxes my shoulders and back elbow. That’s helped me get on plane more, and hit the ball in the air more.”

Laurila: Have you adopted what some people refer to as a launch-angle swing?

Lux: “I wouldn’t say launch angle. But I was always super steep. My bat path was steep when I got drafted, and in my first year. I had a hard time dealing with stuff going away, or down, or changing planes. High fastballs I crushed, but everything else I would kind of just beat into the ground. Now I think about getting on plane more and… not scooping, but I want to hit the ball in the air. I don’t want to hit the ball on the ground.”

Laurila: Has the swing adjustment compromised your ability to handle the high fastball?

Lux: “No. I think that’s always been a strength of mine. I can manipulate the barrel pretty good to where the pitch is. I’m not much of a swing-and-miss guy. So yeah, high fastballs, I can still get to.”

Laurila: It seems counterintuitive, but can not swinging-and-missing very often be detrimental at times? I’m thinking of weak contact with fewer than two strikes.

Lux: “Yeah, it’s like a good and a bad thing. On an 0-0 count, or on 1-0 or 2-0, a guy throws a changeup and you’re like, ‘Aaah!’ You don’t really want to swing, but you end up swinging and you put it in play. You’re like, ‘Man, I wish I would have just swung through that one.’ I mean, you don’t want to swing-and-miss, but at some point… yeah, it’s almost a bad thing.”

Laurila: What is your approach when you’re standing in the box?

Lux: “It depends on the pitcher. Sinker-slider guys, it’s like, ‘scoop the ball to center field.’ For four-seam guys, it’s like, ‘get on top and hit it off the pitcher’s shoe.’ You kind of formulate different plans against certain kind of pitchers. But I always hunt fastballs, so my timing is always for fastballs.”

Laurila: Hitters have told me that their approach is to try to drive the ball over the center fielder’s head.

Lux: “I think left center. If I think center, or pull, I get too rotational and spinny. So for me, left-center is a good cue. I want to be as north-south as possible with my direction, I don’t want to rotate and get east-west. I want everything going towards the pitcher.”

Laurila: Circling back, what were you referring to when you mentioned having unconventional moves?

Lux: “I think my big thing is my little reverse barrel tip. Not too many guys do it, but for me that works. And I kind of have a little reach with my front leg — it almost looks like I get stuck back. I reach with my front leg, but my foot lands and I’m still 50/50. It just looks a little different.”

Laurila: You don’t really have a leg lift, so much as…

Lux: “It’s more like my knee gets under my center mass, under my head. Then I just kind of stride forward. I’m not a big pick-up guy.”

Laurila: I assume you adhere to the ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philosophy?

Lux: “Yes. You have a foundation that you trust, that you know works. But you still might want to make little tweaks here and there, to see if… For instance, maybe this helps you hit a left-handed slider better? Something like that. But the way I look at it, if the foundation you know works, you’ve got to be stubborn to it.”

Laurila: Every hitter needs to be himself. That said, who do you most enjoying watching?

Lux; “Growing up… I mean, everyone loved Ken Griffey Jr’s swing. It was sexy, but for me it’s Robinson Canó. He kind of has a little lean back, like I do a little bit, and everything’s so controlled and slow. It almost looks like he’s dancing with the pitcher.

“I like going slower early, with my timing. If I get sped up… that’s usually not good. That’s why I like watching [Canó]. Again, everything is so controlled. It’s like he’s never sped up, no matter who’s pitching.”

Laurila: My last question is open-ended. What haven’t we touched on, hitting-wise, that we should?

Lux: “A lot of guys get so caught up in mechanics. For me, in part because you’re not going to be feeling good every day, you need to be really good with your approach, and game-planning. I think that’s more important than the swing itself. A lot of guys might not have the most perfect swings — they might not have great swings — but they’re really good hitters because they have really good game plans and approaches. The mechanics you have only mean so much.”

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Earlier “Talks Hitting” interviews can found through these links: Greg Allen, Nolan Arenado, Aaron Bates, Cavan Biggio, Jay Bruce, Matt Chapman, Nelson Cruz, Paul DeJong, Rick Eckstein, Drew Ferguson, Joey Gallo, Mitch Haniger, Evan Longoria, Michael Lorenzen, Trey Mancini, Daniel Murphy, Drew Saylor, Fernando Tatis Jr., Justin Turner, Mark Trumbo, Luke Voit, Jesse Winker.





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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Cave Dameron
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Cave Dameron

What an articulate young man.

calebw
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calebw

Says the caveman…