It doesn’t get any easier than this.
It was a no-brainer giving the Journal Sentinel area player of the year honor to Gavin Lux, a recent graduate of Kenosha Indian Trail who was the 20th pick in the Major League Baseball draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The shortstop, currently playing on L.A.’s minor-league team in the Arizona Rookie League, also was tabbed a MaxPreps All-American and was named state player of the year by Gatorade as well as the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association.
“The accolades he’s received, what hasn’t there been for him?” Indian Trail coach Mike Schmidt said. “All I saw was honestly how each year he progressively got so much better. He was always ahead of the game, but how he was able to stay ahead and keep advancing himself was just really incredible. I think like a runner, you get a big lead running around the track, it’s easy to put it on cruise control and still keep that lead. He made the lead bigger.
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
Area baseball all-conference lists
“If he continues on that path the next four, five, six years, you definitely like to think he could be ultimately on the biggest stage. I think he wakes up every day and says he’s got the best job in the world.”
Lux began his fourth year on varsity thinking he would be drafted in the second or third round.
“As the spring went on, I guess I kept climbing up and improving my draft status,” he said. “It was pretty cool to experience that.”
Playing “essentially under a microscope every move he made,” according to Schmidt, Lux hit .524 as a senior to go with six home runs, 46 runs and 23 stolen bases and was walked 31 times in front of numerous professional scouts at each game.
“I didn’t really pay attention to who was in the stands watching,” said Lux, who had a .932 fielding percentage. “I just went out and played my game. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen.”
What happened in June was Lux became the sixth player from the state drafted in the first round and the first prep player from Wisconsin taken in Round 1 since 1979.
“It was a dream come true,” Lux said. “When you’re a young baseball player, you dream about that moment. For me, it was a long time coming. It was a really cool feeling, especially being surrounded by close family members and friends. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Lux received a signing bonus of over $2 million, and one of the first things he had to get used to in Arizona was the temperature.
“The first two to three weeks were kind of tough getting adjusted to it,” Lux said. “It was 110, 115 every day. You practice from 1 to 5 in the afternoon so it’s right in the middle of the day. It definitely was an adjustment. I’m more used to it now.”
He began the week with a .286 batting average with 26 runs, 14 RBI, four doubles and three triples in his first 27 games for the Arizona League Dodgers.
“It’s still kind of like a dream come true,” Lux said. “Once I got down here, the first week or two it didn’t really feel real. Now it’s sinking in a little bit. I’m just enjoying it all and it’s fun to play baseball every day.”
Coach of the year: Scott Staude, Burlington. Not only did the Demons reach the spring state tournament for just the third time, they left with their first championship.
Burlington scored four times in the top of the seventh inning to defeat Arrowhead, 6-4, in the Division 1 title game.
“These guys just don’t quit,” Staude said. “You can’t coach that, you can’t teach that. That’s not me, that’s them.”
The Demons began their state-winning run by snapping Waterford’s 14-game winning streak May 17 and then again two days later to steal the Southern Lakes Conference crown from the Wolverines.
“That was big,” Staude said. “They were on such a good roll that to beat them and then win the conference title against our rival, I think that accentuated the amount of confidence our kids had. That definitely pointed us in the right direction.”
Burlington knocked off reigning state champion Janesville Craig in the state quarterfinals and then shut out Green Bay Preble in the semifinals.
The team finished with a 25-5 record after going 13-12 last year.
Ryan Schmitt, sr., Arrowhead: He made first-team all-state (spring) and will continue the sport at Illinois next season. Schmitt, 19-0 in his career, made all-area honorable mention last season. “He’s an unbelievable competitor with a bulldog attitude that strives to be better than his last start,” Warhawks coach Vince Mancuso said. Stats: 12-0, 0.55 ERA, 30 H, 85 K, 12 BB, 64 IP, 5 SO.
Nathan Burns, jr., West Bend West: The Oregon State recruit and player of the year in the North Shore Conference also made first-team all-state (summer). “Nathan had a tremendous year on the mound,” Spartans coach Bill Albrecht said. “He’s a strike-thrower with all three pitches. Stats: 7-0, 1.45 ERA, 88 K, 9 BB, 3 SO.
Jeff Holtz, soph., Arrowhead: The Indiana recruit made all-state second team (spring) after he replaced Mike Bauer, who made all-area second team last year as a senior. “The ball explodes off his bat,” Mancuso said. “He has power to all fields and barrels up every pitch. Even on his outs, I say to myself ‘that ball was crushed.’” Stats: .462 BA, 48 H, 14 2B, 3 HR, 40 RBI.
Gavin Lux, sr., Kenosha Indian Trail: The shortstop is the Journal Sentinel area player of the year and was named all-state (spring) by the coaches association and by Gatorade. He is playing in the Arizona Rookie League after being drafted 20th overall by the Dodgers thanks to a senior season of a .524 batting average with six home runs, 46 runs, 23 stolen bases and 31 walks.
Alex Binelas, soph., Oak Creek: The Greater Metro Conference player of the year and Louisville recruit already has 87 RBI in his first two years (the school record is 121). Binelas made first-team all-state (summer). “He is the best hitter I’ve seen at the high school level in 22 years,” Knights coach Scott Holler said. “His knowledge of the game is highly advanced for his age and he’s only going to get better.” Stats: .457 BA, 42 H, 10 2B, 4 HR, 42 RBI, 36 R, 26 BB, 24 SB.
Bohan Lee, sr., Greendale: The second baseman, who will play at UW-Whitewater after making first-team all-state (summer), homered three times and drove in six runs in a game against Homestead this year. “Bohan was in attack mode every time he came to the plate,” Panthers coach Brian Johnsen said. “He is a humble kid who will go down as one of the best hitters in Greendale history.” Stats: .490 BA, 50 H, 3 HR, 35 RBI, 37 R.
Bryan Sturdevant, sr., Burlington: Another UW-Whitewater recruit who made first-team all-state (spring), Sturdevant helped the Demons win Division 1 state. “Bryan was the glue to our championship team,” Burlington coach Scott Staude said. “Bryan was always in the middle of all of our big plays this season. No moment is too big for him.”
Nick Winter, sr., Milwaukee Lutheran: The leftfielder – and pitcher – was named the Division 2 state player of the year (spring) by the WBCA, was recently signed by the Lakeshore Chinooks of the Northwoods League and will play at UW-Milwaukee next year. “Nick was an extremely competitive, dominant, difference maker in all aspects of the game,” Red Knights coach John Ellenberger said. Stats: .519 BA, 54 H, 3 3B, 16 RBI, 33 R, 23 SB; 10-1, 0.76 ERA, 123K, 83 IP.
Connor Kimple, sr., Milwaukee Marquette: The first-team all-state (summer) centerfielder, who will play at Oklahoma State, skipped the high school season to compete on a select team as a junior after making first-team all-state as a sophomore. “When he went, we went,” Hilltoppers coach Sal Bando Jr. said. “I don’t think I’ve seen an athlete run the bases like Connor did this year in my 17 years of coaching high school and college baseball.” Stats: .414 BA, 10 2B, 6 3B, 2 HR, 34 RBI, 32-32 SB.
Aaron Mutter, sr., Burlington: The Southern Lakes Conference player of the year and Winona State recruit made all-state second team (spring). “Aaron capped off a tremendous career with a monster senior year,” Staude said. “He has tremendous power to all fields. Aaron was also a main part of our pitching staff with victories in the conference championship game and sectional final game.” Stats: .450, 45 H, 19 2B, 5 HR, 42 RBI, 31 R; 6-1, 3.61 era, 48 K, 14 BB
Ty Weber, sr., Menomonee Falls: The WBCA summer state player of the year was drafted by Cincinnati but will play at Illinois. The four-year varsity player set a school record for most wins as a pitcher (23) and most strikeouts (249), and his batting average this year also set a record at Falls. “Ty is the most dominating player I have ever seen when you consider both his pitching and hitting,” Indians coach Pat Hansen said. “Ty was the leader of back-to-back state championships, the first two in school history.” Stats: .538 BA, 43 H, 10 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 31 RBI, 18 R, 17 BB, 0 K; 8-0, 51 IP, 29 H, 14 ER, 70 K, 14 BB, 1.92 ERA.
Nate Brown, sr., Arrowhead: The Florida recruit was named first-team all-state (spring) and player of the year in the Wisconsin Little Ten Conference. The cleanup hitter was also the winning pitcher in the state semifinals (spring), as the team took second place in the tournament. Stats: .400 BA, 42 H, 2 HR, 32 RBI, 26 R; 7-1, 1 SV, 1.31 ERA, 32 H, 74 K, 19 BB, 55 IP, 4 SO.
Jacob Lindemann, jr., Burlington (Wichita State)
Matt McCarty, sr., South Milwaukee (Louisville)
Jack Thelen, jr., West Bend West (UW-Milwaukee)
Justin Lavey, sr., Kenosha Tremper (Louisville)
Zach Clayton, jr., Oconomowoc (Oregon State)
Nick Gile, jr., Menomonee Falls
Anthony Schlass, jr., West Bend West (Oklahoma)
D.J. Ellifson, sr., Oak Creek (St. Cloud State)
Dom Clementi, sr., Arrowhead (Michigan)
Christian Kadrich, sr., Cedarburg
Antonio Valadez, jr., Milwaukee Riverside
Adam Lukas, sr., Grafton (Evansville)
Pitchers: Ryan Hoerter, jr., Kenosha Indian Trail; Ryan Nehls, sr., Lake Country Lutheran; Joe Panella, jr., Homestead; Jim Jarecki, sr., Marquette.
Cathers: Garrett Gilbert, jr., Westosha Central; Austin Emanuel, sr., Mukwonago.
Infielders: Andrew Buran, sr., Lake Country Lutheran; Jake Hall, sr., Lake Country Lutheran; Trey Johnson, sr., Shoreland Lutheran; Jake Wiedower, sr., St. Francis; Nolan Heck, sr., Waukesha South.
Outfielders: Johnny Duranso, sr., Arrowhead; Nick Elsen, jr., Indian Trail; Joey Scaffidi, jr., New Berlin Eisenhower; Ben Stanke, jr., Oak Creek; Michael Frasher, sr., Muskego; Caleb Wagner, sr., Muskego.