BLUF: Raw talent with gobs of impact offensive potential.
The Player: Dawel Lugo (SS, Toronto Blue Jays) – The Blue Jays gave Lugo $1.3 million as one of the highest paid signings of the 2011 international signing period. He debuted in the Dominican Summer League in 2012, hitting .224/.275/.329 with two doubles, three triples and two home runs in 47 games.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (Instructs 2012), Industry Contacts
Body (6-0, 185): Solid build. Thicker lower half. Good present strength and above-average athleticism. Very coordinated for his age. Lower half could get to be a bit much for the middle infield, but body should be a positive trait long term.
Hit: Straight up hitter. Knows the strike zone but likes to swing early and often. Shows ability to track pitches and make mid-flight adjustments to aid contact. Consistently barrels the ball both in and out of the strike zone. Tons of loud contact to all fields. Short, quick swing with plus-plus bat speed. Approach can be concerning but natural hitting ability is impressive; combined with clear signs of pitch recognition skills, could be a plus-plus hitter at maturity. More conservative thought suggests easy plus hitter. Would be exposed right now but hitting ability will come quickly. Requires multiple grade jumps. Grade – 30/60
Power: Ball explodes off his bat. Everything is loud. Really impressive BP power displays. Will struggle to translate to game action for a while because he swings out of the zone so frequently. As approach is refined, should show plenty of pop. Easy plus power to pull side and projects for strength/bat speed to generate oppo power in the same mold, but doesn’t trust his hands/strength yet. Below-average raw right now, more in the gap mold but very little reservation projection for plus raw down the road. Grade (raw power) – 40/60
Arm: Plenty of raw arm strength for the left side of the infield. Mechanics are inconsistent, as is footwork on most throws. Needs to work on a quicker release and mechanical consistency. Has a chance to show regular above-average arm strength but may settle in the average range more often. Should hold up wherever he plays. Grade – 40/50
Fielding: Raw. Has good hands and decent instincts. Lacks true shortstop range and may not be well-suited for the position long term. Footwork gets a little clumsy at times as he tries to rush plays but he has spurts where he takes his time and looks smooth and solid at the position. If he thickens too much for SS, 3B would be a good possibility. Shows better when he has to react rather than when he has more time, suggesting he may be better suited for 3B long term. Could be an average glove there. Grade – 30/50 (At 3B)
Speed: Speed has improved from decidedly below-average to fringe-average over the last two years, particularly on longer runs when he can get up to speed. Likely to settle as below-average runner with physical maturity and projected thickening of the lower half. Grade – 50/40
Summation: Love what he brings to the table. The natural hitting ability smacks you in the face. Really impressed with the feel for the strike zone, ability to recognize and track pitches at a young age, even though he prefers to swing a lot. You can see it working in his head. Plus hit projection is very attainable and he could blow that out of the water. Potential .290+ hitter. Power is in there and will manifest with additional physical maturation and development of his offensive approach. Has lift in the swing and bat speed for 20+ home runs, backed up by piles of doubles. Potential impact middle-of-the-order hitter with average and power. Defensive profile is an open question but has the reactions, hands and solid arm strength to support a shift to third base instead of shortstop. If body comes up short of projections, then he could survive at shortstop in a fringe-average sort of way, particularly with his bat. The development is likely to be slow, but there’s an impact big leaguer in there.
Relative Risk: High. Several tools need multiple grade jumps and he hasn’t seen Stateside ball yet.
Future: If Lugo can start to put things together at the plate a little more while successfully navigating the adjustment(s) to the United States, then his developmental progress in 2013 would be a resounding success. He is likely at least five years from the big league radar but when he gets to that level, he could be a special player.