With a major emphasis on developing talented young infielders within their minor league system, the Toronto Blue Jays are working hard on making sure they have guys that will be able to compete for starting jobs in the next couple years. This is a great thing for Blue Jays fans, as many of their starting infielders are getting up there in age and will be ready for the new wave of talent to fill their shoes in the near future.
With visions of being the Blue Jays everyday shortstop, Dawel Lugo has aspirations of being the guy who fills the six spot on the lineup card. Sometimes forgotten amongst the Blue Jays minor league ranks with more fans following Richard Urena. Lugo is further along in his development though, as he just completed his first full season of professional baseball and is in good line to make the jump to high-A baseball in the spring.
Known for his excellent plate presence, Lugo does a great job putting the ball in play. Only striking out 72 times in 474 at-bats, Lugo’s strikeout to at-bat ratio doesn’t line up with his .259 batting average and .286 OBP on the season. Basically Lugo kept barreling the ball up, but it wasn’t finding the holes in 2014. But as any baseball coach will tell you when you put the ball in play, eventually good things will happen.
Registering 123 hits on the season; which included 17 doubles, two triples, four home runs, and 53 RBIs, Lugo showed the signs of the extra base power he shown earlier in his professional career. Although, the 20-year old was more of a singles hitter in Lansing, his hitting coach Ken Huckaby feels fans should remain high on Lugo’s bat in the upcoming seasons.
“Dawel has got a lot better in 2014. His defense got better and his hitting is his hitting it’s what he does best,” stated Huckaby. “Dawel matured a lot this season. The fans in Lansing didn’t get to see as much of Dawel’s extra base power. He had a slow start in the cold weather and he fought his way back to put together a good solid season. Dawel has the potential to be a big hitter moving forward. He’s an exciting young player that’s fun to watch.”
One area Lugo could improve on at the plate is being a little more patient. Like a lot of young hitters he likes to swing early which leads to a lot of fly-outs and groundouts. If he becomes a little more patient and learns to draw a few more walks, Lugo could really turn a corner in his career fast as he has all the tools at the plate to be a great hitter.
One area that needs some improvement in Lugo’s game is his defense. The young Dominican feels he took some positive steps forward in his play in the field in 2014 and he did. Committing 29 errors in his first 111 professional games, the young prospect only committed 26 errors in 110 games in Lansing, so his game is moving in the right direction in the field.
“I feel I’ve developed a lot at shortstop this season,” explained Lugo. “I feel my range improved a lot this season in Lansing. I have also improved my throws to first base. It’s been a good year for me defensively.”
Seeing the ball come off the bat a little better is helping Lugo’s game. The young prospect maintained a .943 fielding percentage on the season, while taking part in 53 doubles plays and assisting on 285 plays. It’s safe to say Lugo is working hard to get better every day in the field.
Well respected in his home country, Lugo returned home this off-season and was selected with the 4th pick of the 4th round of the Dominican Winter League draft to play for Tigres del Licey, an exciting moment for the Dominican Republic native who will enjoy playing professional baseball in his home country to help him prepare for spring training.
“My off-season plans are to work hard and get better for next season,” stated Lugo. “I was drafted to play winter ball for Tigres del Licey and I’m excited for that opportunity to continue playing throughout the winter, as I prepare for next season.”
Be sure to follow Dawel Lugo, as he continues to sharpen his skills and take the next step in his professional career in 2015.