In the process of ranking the top 20 prospects in the Red Sox farm system for The Athletic, Keith Law identified one under-the-radar-minor-leaguer who has a chance to take a big step forward in 2022.
His name? Matthew Lugo, who Law regards as the No. 9 prospect in Boston’s farm system behind left-hander Brandon Walter and ahead of right-hander Bryan Mata.
Lugo, who turns 21 in May, was originally selected by the Sox in the second round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico. He spent the entirety of the 2021 minor-league season with Low-A Salem.
There, the right-handed hitting shortstop batted .270/.338/.364 (95 wRC+) with 21 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 50 RBIs, 61 runs scored, 15 stolen bases, 38 walks, and 94 strikeouts over 105 games spanning 469 plate appearances.
On paper, a below-average wRC+ of 95 obviously does not stick out. However, in Lugo’s case, he closed out his season by slashing an impressive .349/.432/.587 (171 wRC+) over 17 games (74 plate appearances) in the month of September while being among the youngest hitters in the Low-A East.
“He’s an athletic shortstop who should get to at least average power, and showed solid zone awareness last year in Low-A, with just a 20 percent strikeout rate despite having played just two games outside the complex league before last year,” Law wrote of Lugo on Tuesday. “His defense at shortstop has improved significantly, and the quality of his at-bats also improved over the course of 2021. He might be a level per year guy but projects to be an everyday player at shortstop when he gets there.”
That Law has ranked Lugo as highly as he did is somewhat surprising. Baseball America does not have the 20-year-old infielder included in their top 10 Red Sox prospects list, while SoxProspects.com has him ranked at No. 28 in the organization.
As for why Law believes Lugo could take a step forward this year, he also listed the Manati native as Boston’s sleeper prospect, writing: “I think this is Lugo’s year to take that big step forward at the plate, with harder contact and better at-bats translating at least into doubles power.”
Lugo, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 187 pounds, was one of 28 Red Sox minor-leaguers who participated in the team’s Winter Warm-Up program in Fort Myers last month. He is projected to begin the 2022 season with High-A Greenville.
(Picture of Matthew Lugo: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)