2013 Top Prospects #24: Dawel Lugo
By Kyle Matte
The next prospect on our top 30 countdown was acquired as an International Free Agent during the same signing period as the #30 prospect, Wuilmer Becerra, as well as one of the most elite arms in the system, Roberto Osuna.
Dawel Lugo playing in the Dominican Republic (Image via DPLBaseball.com)
Name: Dawel Lugo
Date of Birth: 12/13/1994 (18)
Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent out of the Dominican Republic in July 2011 ($1.3 million USD)
High School: N/A
Height/Weight: 6’0”/190 lbs
Awards and Accomplishments:
- Unranked on 2012 top 30 prospects list
2012 Statistics and Analysis
170 AB, .224/.275/.329 (.604 OPS), 2 2B, 5 3B, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 5 SB, 7/25 BB/K
When looking over Lugo’s debut performance, you can quickly surmise why putting too much emphasis on complex league statistics is a precarious proposition. The contact skills look poor upon first glance, but when delving a little deeper you can take some legitimate positives out of his stat line. First and foremost; his strikeout rate was just 13.7% as a 17 year old (he was the 3rd youngest player in the GCL in 2012). That’s a very good sign. Secondly, his BABIP was a well below league average .252. The three main factors that can weight down a BABIP are big home run numbers, bad luck with fielder positioning, and consistently weak contact. Lugo had just two home runs and is well known for his bat skills, so the main culprit in this instance appears to be bad luck. The five triples in 47 games are more than a little surprising, as while Lugo isn’t a slug running the bases, he’s not a burner either. The three-baggers were likely the result of rookie level fielding and decision making, and should discontinue in subsequent years as he begins to face better defensive outfielders. That Lugo was able to skip the Dominican Summer League altogether is noteworthy.
Video (via the Dominican Prospect League)
Dawel Lugo has a swing that is both interesting and peculiar. The first thing I noticed was how poorly he uses his lower half. His stride and weight transfer are virtually non-existent, which really inhibits his power potential. That’s the peculiar aspect. The interesting part is what happens with his upper half. Despite holding his hands high and back, Lugo is very quick to the ball and has an efficient swing path with some loft generation; good bat speed and fast hands allow for this to work. He has excellent plate coverage (too good some might say), and he’s not afraid to use the opposite field on pitches away.
While Lugo is presently listed as a shortstop – and played all 47 games at the position in 2012 – his long term destination is still up for debate. You always hope a shortstop can stick, and the Blue Jays should give Lugo every opportunity to prove that he can, but there are already doubts creeping in regarding that viability. He’s not very quick, and maintaining average of better range as he physically matures could prove to be a problem. Lugo’s skills may play better at third base, as despite a prolonged throwing motion, he has solid-average arm strength from the left side of the infield. He may encounter problems making quick throws on drag bunts and the like, but plays that require him to move to his right would be a non-issue. Lugo wouldn’t be spectacular there, but he could be a good defender at the hot corner.
As long as he can remain on the left side of the infield, Lugo has the offensive potential to be an above average regular. His best tool is his bat, as he combines an aggressive approach and good hand-eye coordination with the above swing mechanics to put balls in play frequently and with some authority. As Ben Badler of Baseball America writes, it’s “…as much of a gift as it is a curse because he ends up swinging the bat way too much at pitches he has no business trying to hit”. Blue Jays coaches will need to rein him back a bit as he develops, as mature, polished pitchers will take advantage of that recklessness. The power has yet to fully develop, but if Lugo can begin using his leg strength a bit more he could eventually be a legitimate threat in that regard as well. The hit and power tools have plus and solid-average projections respectively. Lugo is an average runner on his best days.
The perfect world projection for Dawel Lugo would be an everyday third baseman; first division starter.
2013 Outlook, Risk, and ETA
Statistically, Lugo didn’t show a whole lot with the Gulf Coast Blue Jays in 2012, but the reviews of evaluators outside the organization have painted an impressive image of his play in fall instructs. If he can follow this up with a strong performance in extended spring training next year, Lugo could be poised for a breakout season in 2013. Bluefield seems like the most logical destination to at least start the year, but he could find himself in Vancouver before too long, and perhaps even Lansing by the end of the season if he plays well. As a prospect just exiting the complex league, an ETA for Toronto is far more of a projection than an expectation, and with Lugo I’d be hesitant to suggest anything earlier than perhaps 2017. Needless to say, the risk factor with the soon-to-be 18 year old is sky high.