Red Sox infield prospect Matthew Lugo has been named co-Rookie of the Year in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rican Winter League), the league announced on Wednesday.
Lugo, representing the Criollos de Caguas, received the same amount of votes as Leones de Ponce left-hander Miguel Ausua. In 39 games with Caguas this winter, the right-handed hitting 21-year-old batted .275/.360/.450 with three doubles, six home runs, 19 RBIs, 20 runs scored, two stolen bases, 11 walks, and 34 strikeouts over 140 plate appearances.
Defensively, Lugo saw playing time at three different positions for the Criollos. The 6-foot-1, 187 pounder logged 54 2/3 innings at second base, 152 1/3 innings at third base, and 85 2/3 innings at shortstop. His winter ball assignment ended on December 23.
The Red Sox originally selected Lugo in the second round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the Carlos Beltran (Lugo’s uncle) Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico. They swayed the Manati native away from his commitment to the University of Miami by signing him for $1.1 million. He is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 14 prospect in Boston’s farm system.
Lugo spent the vast majority of the 2022 minor-league season with High-A Greenville. He slashed .288/.344/.500 with 18 home runs and 78 RBIs in 114 games (512 plate appearances) for the Drive before earning a promotion to and appearing in three games with Double-A Portland down the stretch in late September.
At season’s end, Minor League Baseball tabbed Lugo as one of Boston’s organizational All-Stars at shortstop. Interestingly enough, however, Lugo moved off short in August and mostly played third base from that point forward. It now appears as though he is slated to remain at the hot corner since he looked more comfortable there last summer, per SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall.
Lugo, who turns 22 in May, is projected to return to Portland for the start of the 2023 season in April. If he intends on having success against more advanced pitching with the Sea Dogs, he will need to work on raising his on-base percentage by drawing more walks while also cutting down on the number of times he expands the strike zone.
In other Puerto Rican Winter League-related news, infielder Edwin Diaz was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. Diaz reportedly signed a minor-league contract with the Red Sox earlier this week. Additionally, former Red Sox reliever Yacksel Rios was named Pitcher of the Year after allowing just two earned runs in 27 2/3 innings of work for Caguas.
(Picture of Matthew Lugo: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)