Red Sox shortstop prospect Matthew Lugo is thriving with High-A Greenville

Before the minor-league season began, The Athletic’s Keith Law identified Matthew Lugo as a potential sleeper prospect within the Red Sox farm system. A little more than five weeks into the 2022 campaign, Lugo has shown why he is worthy of more recognition.

In High-A Greenville’s 6-3 loss to the Asheville Tourists at McCormick Field on Tuesday, one day after celebrating his 21st birthday, Lugo went 1-for-4 with his lone hit being an eighth-inning two-run home run.

Through 24 games with the Drives this season, the right-handed hitting shortstop has batted a stout .333/.385/.576 with eight doubles, three triples, four home runs, 19 RBIs, 16 runs scored, five stolen bases, six walks, and 17 strikeouts over 109 plate appearances.

Among qualified South Atlantic League hitters, Lugo ranks eighth in strikeout percentage (15.6%), fifth in batting average, 20th in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging percentage, eighth in OPS (.961), 14th in isolated power (.242), 20th in speed score (7.6), and seventh in wRC+ (155), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, the 6-foot-1, 185 pounder has seen all his playing time on the field this year come at shortstop. He has logged 203 1/3 innings at the position thus far and has committed six errors while turning five double plays.

The nephew of former big-leaguer Carlos Beltran, Lugo was originally selected by the Red Sox in the second round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico. The Barceloneta native signed with the club for $1.1 million and made his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League.

As things stand now, Lugo is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 14 prospect in Boston’s farm system. And, as noted in the above tweet, it certainly seems as though the 21-year-old will earn a promotion to Double-A Portland sooner rather than later.

(Picture of Matthew Lugo: Gwinn Davis/Greenville Drive)

Red Sox infield prospect Matthew Lugo has sleeper potential heading into 2022 season

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)

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)

Red Sox Select Shortstop Matthew Lugo with 69th Overall Pick in 2019 MLB Draft

After selecting Cameron Cannon with their first and 43rd overall pick in the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft, the Red Sox have added on another nice shortstop with their second pick of the night, this time drafting Matthew Lugo out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico with the 69th overall pick in the second round.

The nephew of Carlos Beltran himself, Lugo, 18, ranked 38th among MLB.com’s top 200 draft prospects and the highest out of any Puerto Rican born players.

Originally committed to the University of Miami, as MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo noted, it seems as though Red Sox manager Alex Cora has his name written all over this pick.

A high school class of 2019 graduate, here’s how the 6’1″, 185 lb. infielder stacked up against MLB.com’s scouting grades:

Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Per SoxProspects.com, the assigned slot value for the 69th pick in this year’s draft is approximately $929,800.

If Boston’s newest draftee is going to sign, expect it to happen relatively soon.