Former Tulsa Drillers infielder Gavin Lux is Baseball America’s selection as the Minor League Player of the Year.
Lux spent the first half of the season with the Drillers before being promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City. His overall totals in 113 games were 26 home runs, 76 RBIs and a .347 batting average. Lux played in 69 games for Tulsa, batting .313 with 13 homers. His RBIs were nearly split evenly between the teams, but his batting average for OKC was .392.
Overall, his batting average and OPS (1.028) ranked fourth in the minors, his .607 slugging percentage was sixth and his .421 on-base percentage was 10th. In mid-season, he had a 50-game streak of reaching base.
Lux was promoted on Sept. 2 to the Los Angeles Dodgers and hit his first major league homer in the their National League West Division-clinching win Tuesday.
He is the second Driller in their 43-year history to win the award. Left-handed pitcher Jeff Francis was the winner in 2004 as he went 13-1 with a 1.98 ERA for the Drillers before a brief stint with Triple-A Colorado Springs and then ended the year with the Colorado Rockies. He was a combined 16-3 in the minors and 3-2 for Colorado.
Two other players in Tulsa’s pro history have won the award.
In 1975, third baseman Hector Cruz was The Sporting News’ winner. He batted .306 with 29 homers and 116 RBIs before being called up by the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 1939, outfielder Lou “The Mad Russian” Novikoff won the award. In 110 games, he batted .368 to win the Texas League batting title. He also had 14 homers and 77 RBIs before being sold to the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels, where he batted .452 in 36 games.
Lux, a postseason star in Tulsa’s pennant run last year, was named as the second baseman on Baseball America’s overall minor league all-star team. But he was the shortstop on Baseball America’s Triple-A and Double-A all-star teams.
Current Drillers shortstop Jeter Downs was a second-team selection on the minor league all-star team. Downs also was selected to the Single-A all-star team along with his Rancho Cucamonga teammate, second baseman Devin Mann, who should be with Tulsa next year.
Tulsa’s three-peat as the TL North Division champions, winning a Game 5 in the best-of-5 series on all three occasions, is quite a contrast from the playoff frustration the Drillers experienced in the previous decade.
From 2004-07, the Drillers, as a Colorado Rockies farm team, reached the division finals all four years and lost them all — winning only one of 13 games. In 2012, the Drillers lost again in the division finals, but at least took that series to five games against Springfield. Tulsa finally advanced to the finals in its final year as a Rockies affiliate in 2014.
Drillers manager Scott Hennessey said about his team’s ability to win a Game 5 in the North finals three consecutive years, “It’s the culture we (the Dodgers) have built. We played as hard from the first night to the last night. They (players) don’t want to go home, they refuse to lose, that’s the culture we’ve built.”
Former Oral Roberts pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez picked up his first major league win since 2015 when he worked six strong innings in a 2-1 victory over St. Louis on Tuesday. He is 1-6 with a 6.56 ERA in 11 appearances (10 starts) for Colorado but has pitched better for the most part than his record indicates. The Rockies had lost his first nine starts — a team record — but Gonzalez often was the victim of low run support.
His ERA was inflated by a start on Aug. 29 when he gave up seven runs in two-thirds of an inning. The Rockies gave him another start and he responded with six shutout innings against the Dodgers before the bullpen blew that win opportunity and he followed that with the win over the Cardinals.
Gonzalez, a 2013 first-round draft choice by the Texas Rangers, had a promising major league debut with a 4-6 record and 3.90 ERA for the Rangers in ’15 before elbow problems derailed his career for a while. He underwent Tommy John surgery and missed nearly two full seasons before pitching 10 innings over three games for Rangers rookie-level teams late last year.Notable
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