Gavin LaValley had 2016 start out in the right way. He saw time with the big league club in spring training, going 1-4 with a double and a walk in three games. However, he suffered a hamstring injury in March and got his regular season out to a late start.
The big Oklahoman first baseman joined the Dayton Dragons on May 13th. He only stayed with Dayton for seven days, essentially to get back into the groove of things. With the Dragons he went 4-19 (.211) with a double. LaValley joined the Daytona Tortoguas on the 20th and slumped for the first week that he was there. He went 2-20 with a solo home run. The final four games of the month were very strong. He went 5-13 (.385) with three walks and four doubles to close out the month. Things were tough to start and Lavalley managed just a .212/.339/.365 line in 16 games.
Weather caused problems in the first week of June, leading to just three games being played. Gavin LaValley went just 1-9 in that span. The slump continued into the second week of the month. That’s where he hit just .227 with one walk, no extra-base hits and seven strikeouts. Everything turned around in the second half of the month. LaValley went on a tear over the final 12 games of the month, going 17-50 (.340) with five doubles, a triple and three home runs. Another slow start, but the right handed hitter finished the last two weeks in a big way and hit .284/.310/.481 for the month.
The strong finish of June carried forward into July. Gavin LaValley went 8-25 (.320) with three doubles and another home run in the first week. The next week was even stronger. LaValley went 8-21 (.381) with three extra-base hits. It was the third week where he went into a big slump, going just 2-26 with one walk. The final nine games picked back up where the rest of the month had been – going 10-33 (.303) with two doubles and two home runs. That third week slump drug the overall line down where he hit .267/.345/.448 with 10 walks and 18 strikeouts in 119 plate appearances.
August started out well as Gavin LaValley. He went 4-10 with a home run in the first three games, but he went 1-14 the rest of the week. In the second week things got back on track as he hit .304 with four doubles. He went 8-27 (.296) the following week. From August 23rd to 25th he went 0-11 against Lakeland. Once they left town LaValley absolutely went off over the final nine games of the year. He went 15-33 (.455) with six doubles and three home runs. Over the final five weeks of the season the first baseman hit .294/.336/.496 with 16 extra-base hits.
The year got out to a slow start for Gavin LaValley. He missed the first five weeks of the regular season while rehabbing a hamstring injury. When he did return, he struggled to catch up at first. Once he got going though, he performed very well. Over the final 73 games of the season he hit .296/.348/.509 for Daytona. That comes in a league where the average OPS was .658 on the year. He showed off good power and solid plate discipline for most of the year.
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Gavin LaValley Scouting Report
Hitting | He’s got the ability to use the entire field well and can hit the ball hard everywhere. His raw hit tool is slightly above-average.
Power | LaValley has bat speed and strength. He also has some length to his swing. There’s 20+ home run power in there in the future.
Running | He’s a well below-average runner. As a corner infielder that isn’t likely to come into play too often.
Arm | He’s got an average arm. He didn’t get to show it off much in 2016 as he spent a majority of his time at first base.
Defense | At third base he took a step backwards in 2016. In 2015 he made strides at the position and found some consistency, showing below-average range but an accurate arm and he made the plays he could get to. In 2016 he struggled in limited action at third base, making six errors in just 24 games and posting an .889 fielding percentage. With limited range at third, if there’s a chance he’s going to stick there, he will have to cut down on the errors significantly.
After a season in 2015 when LaValley dropped significant weight for the second time in the last several years, he struggled to find the home run power with Dayton. That power returned in 2016 in a big way and alleviated some of the concerns that some evaluators had. If he’s going to stick at first base, he’s going to have to get the most from his power and hit at least 20 home runs. With Joey Votto in Cincinnati, that could give LaValley all of the time in the world to push for that kind of ceiling.