Written by: John Stewart (@jonance)
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Nearly two decades ago as we collectively careened towards the turn of the century and our minds were focused on Y2K fears/the end of civilization as we knew it, we were caught off guard by a too-pretty Puerto Rican singer who would help usher in a Latin pop explosion that’s impact is still evident in music today.
Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca”, which I believe loosely translates to “Catchy Latino Beat with Garbage Lyrics”, served as a reminder to 20-something-year-olds such as myself that I would never be sexy, able to dance or able to get this awful song out of my head. Yet, somehow, the newness of the Latin horns and sensuous nature of the track saw it nominated for 26 awards and kept it at #1 on the billboard charts for five consecutive weeks, even lasting longer on that charts than ‘Yesterday’ by the Beatles.
America had Latin fever, and soon Ricky Martin would be followed by Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, Shakira and others to find commercial success in the states.
But I have a different kind of fever, one that involves a relatively unheralded player from the 2018 Amateur Draft who may have as much fantasy potential as any prospect selected last summer. Grant Lavigne has me “Livin’ Lavigne Loca”!
Lavigne hails from Bedford, New Hampshire, which isn’t exactly a state known for producing Major League ballplayers. Chris Carpenter and Bob Tewksbury are probably the most well-known players to come out of the Granite State, along with a short list of decidedly unexciting names. Lavigne, however, is looking to plant himself towards the top of that list.
At Bedford High School in 2018, Lavigne won New Hampshire Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year with a monster season. He accrued just 67 plate appearance but put up jaw-dropping numbers in that small sample. Lavigne tallied 7 HR, 17 SB and 26 RBI while posting a ridiculous .639/.806/1.361 triple-slash. That’s a 2.167 OPS. If those numbers don’t leave you tingly, you need some maca root.
Of course that was against high school competition, but it got the attention of big league organizations; the Rockies eventually selected him 42nd overall in the 2018 draft. Many prognosticators had him going lower in the draft due to the fact he is likely a 1B-only prospect. He was able to handle left field in high school, but Lavigne is already 6’4” and 230 lbs. While he moves well for a big man (he even stole 12 bases in the Pioneer League in 59 games), his arm doesn’t project well from any of the three outfield positions.
We’ve already made our way through the negatives. Now let’s get excited.
Lavigne got his first taste of pro ball in Grand Junction. It’s true that the Pioneer League is hitter friendly, but *checks notes* it turns out Coors Field is no pitching haven either. The 18-year-old impressed in his debut over 258 plate appearances, triple-slashing .350/.477/.519, swatting 6 HR and racking up 38 RBI to go along with 45 walks and 40 strikeouts. His wRC+ of 160 ranked 2nd in the league, and Lavigne did it all as the fifth-youngest player in the league. It’s likely the stolen base output shrinks over time, but the 12 steals in 17 attempts does show he isn’t simply a base clogger.
What I really like about Lavigne is his smooth, left-handed swing and discerning eye at the plate which allows him to maintain a respectable average while tapping into his immense power. Here he is taking some cuts:
Another thing that really stands out to me is his spray chart, which shows one of the youngest hitters in the league utilizing the opposite field at an advanced rate. Three of his six homers were hit to left field, and more than half of all his other hits were to the left side. We’re looking at a very advanced hitter for his age. (Chart courtesy of @MinorGraphs)
Although all six of his home runs came against righties, he still managed a .323 AVG and .896 OPS against southpaws, so I don’t see any immediate red flags in his splits.
In summation, Lavigne is a very large human who will take his home-field cuts at Coors Field. He possesses double-plus bat speed and power, an all-fields approach, has walked more than he’s struck out and has shown an ability to handle left-handed opposition. Lavigne is currently being ranked mostly in the late teens in First Year Player Draft rankings, which I think will look criminal in just a season or two. With last summer now in the rearview mirror, Lavigne had one of the the most impressive debuts of any 2018 draftee. I’m all-in. If the first baseman is still available, make sure you’re Livin’ Lavigne Loca this season in your deep keeper or dynasty league!
Follow P365 staff writer John Stewart on Twitter! @jonance
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365