Red Sox infield prospect Matthew Lugo closed out his 2021 season with Low-A Salem on a high note

One of the youngest players the Red Sox selected in the 2019 amateur draft was second-round pick Matthew Lugo.

Lugo, then just 18 years old, was fresh out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico and ultimately forwent his commitment to the University of Miami to sign with the Sox for an over-slot deal of $1.1 million that June.

After beginning his professional career in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and closing out the year with the short-season Lowell Spinners, Lugo — like many minor-leaguers had his 2020 season taken away from him due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Lugo had the chance to participate in some organized baseball activities during the Sox’ fall instructional league in Fort Myers, the young infielder came into the 2021 campaign having not seen any real in-game action in nearly two years.

Now 20 years old, Lugo broke minor-league camp with Low-A Salem last spring and spent the entirety of the year there. In 105 games for Salem, the right-handed hitter batted .270/.338/.364 (95 wRC+) to go along with 21 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 50 RBIs, 61 runs scored, 15 stolen bases, 38 walks, and 94 strikeouts over 469 trips to the plate.

On the surface, those numbers may not look all that inspiring, but Lugo was among the youngest hitters to play in the Low-A East last year. Interestingly enough, the Manati native fared far better against right-handed pitchers (.294/.367/.402 slash line against in 387 plate appearances) than left-handers (.160/.198/.187 slash line in 82 plate appearances).

In spite of those reverse splits, Lugo saved his best for last in terms of offensive production by batting a scorching .349/.432/.587 (171 wRC+) with five doubles, two triples, two homers, 13 RBIs, 18 runs scored, one stolen base, eight walks, and 16 strikeouts over 17 games (74 plate appearances) in the month of September.

Defensively, Lugo saw time at both second base and shortstop with the Salem Sox in 2021. The 6-foot-1, 187 pounder logged 53 innings at second base and 797 1/3 innings at shortstop, committing a total of 35 errors while turning 44 double plays.

Going into the off-season, Lugo was assigned to Criollos de Caguas of the Puerto Rican Winter League back in November. He had previously played for his hometown Atenienses de Manati during the 2019-2020 off-season but has yet to appear in a game for Caguas.

Lugo, who turns 21 in May, is the nephew of former All-Star outfielder Carlos Beltran — a close friend of Red Sox manager Alex Cora. He ended the 2021 season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 18 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Lugo “is described as strikingly mature in his routines and work, including strength work that led one evaluator to describe him as, pound for pound, the strongest prospect in the system. While many expected him to move to second base in pro ball, he has made significant strides at shortstop and many with the Red Sox now believe he can stick at the position.”

On that note, Lugo is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season at High-A Greenville. He will not become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft until next year.

Picture of Matthew Lugo: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Former Red Sox Manager Alex Cora Speaks on Fallout of Astros’ Sign-Stealing Fiasco

For one of the first times since he was relieved of his duties back in January, former Red Sox manager Alex Cora spoke publicly about the fallout of Major League Baseball’s recent investigation into the Houston Astros.

Cora, who served as Houston’s bench coach under A.J. Hinch during the 2017 season, was handed down a one-year ban in April from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred for the role he played in the club’s illegal stealing of signs, not for what he did in his first year as Red Sox manager in 2018.

From the time he and the Sox parted ways, Cora has kept relatively quiet up until now, and he has a solid reason for that.

“Out of respect for the investigation, I decided to stay out of the spotlight. Talking about it wasn’t going to change anything,” Cora told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. “I deserve my suspension and I’m paying the price for my actions. And I am not proud of what happened. We made a mistake as a group, the entire [Astros] team. What happened was something that, if you ask anyone involved, no one is proud of it. We’re all at fault. Everybody. We’re all responsible. Everyone who was part of the team from around mid-May until the end of the season, we are all responsible.”

One thing Cora takes issue with though, is the notion that he and ex-Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who played for Houston in 2017, were the only two individuals behind the Astros’ misdoings, as has been thrown out there by former ‘Stros general manager Jeff Lunhow.

“There has been a narrative out there of what happened. Ever since mid-November until the commissioner announced the results of the Red Sox investigation, I have read many things that are true and many others that are not,” Cora stated. “Out of this whole process, if there is one thing that I completely reject and disagree with is people within the Astros’ organization singling me out, particularly Jeff Luhnow, as if I were the sole mastermind. The commissioner’s report sort of explained, in its own way, what happened.

“”If there is one thing I am absolutely sure of, it is that it was not a two-man show. We all did it. And let me be very clear that I am not denying my responsibility, because we were all responsible.”

Cora will be eligible to return to baseball in 2021. And with rumors of a potential reunion with the Red Sox ever prevalent, his thought’s on the club’s punishments, which included video replay room coordinator J.T. Watkins also getting suspended, are something I think many would like to hear about.

However, the only thing he really said about the commissioner’s report into Boston’s illegal use of the video replay room in 2018 is that it “speaks for itself.”

Current Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke, who was officially named manager by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom back in February, is under contract with Boston through the end of 2020.

As already mentioned, there has been plenty of speculation that Cora will return to his old post next year, but for the time being, the 2018 World Series-winning manager says “all I care about is my personal life and my family,” and he “absolutely” wants to return to the game in the future.

Red Sox Manager Alex Cora Reportedly Played ‘Key Role’ in Astros’ Sign Stealing Fiasco in 2017

Red Sox manager Alex Cora will be interviewed by Major League Baseball as part of the league’s investigation into the Houston Astros stealing signs throughout the 2017 season, per The Athletic’s Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal.

According to the report, Cora, “played a key role in devising the sign-stealing system the team used that season.”

Cora served as bench coach under manager A.J. Hinch during the Astros’ World Series-winning campaign in 2017. New Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who played his final season with Houston as the team’s designated hitter, will also be interviewed.

In case you missed this news from Tuesday, the basic premise is that the Astros had a system at Minute Maid Park where a camera was set up in the outfield so that it could capture what the opposing team’s catcher was laying down to his pitcher. With that information coming through on a monitor and some decoding of said signs, someone in the Astros dugout could signal to the hitter at the plate what kind of pitch was on the way, which was done through making, “a loud noise — specifically, banging on a trash can, which sat in the tunnel,” behind Houston’s dugout.

This much was confirmed by former Astros right-hander Mike Fiers, who was with the club from July 2015 until the end of the 2017 season.

What does this have to do with Cora and the Red Sox? Well, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the league spoke with Sox bullpen coach Craig Bjornson, who came over from Houston with Cora back in 2017, on Wednesday.

Cora appeared on WEEI’s Dale & Keefe show on Thursday, and was asked about his involvement in what is currently transpiring.

“I appreciate the question,” Cora said. “…I have talked to MLB and I’ll leave it at that.”

As for what is in store for Cora and the Sox, more is sure to come as the league’s investigation progresses, so stay tuned for that.