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Oh Yeah, That Guy!: Vicente Lupo

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You might not remember Vicente Lupo, but he had an excellent week back in 2016.

lupo_BRYANGREEN
Vicente Lupo
BRYAN GREEN

August 16 to August 22 (2016): 8-23, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 7 K, 0/0 SB

Signed as a 16-year-old out of Caracas, Venezuela on July 10, 2010, the Mets gave Vicente Lupo $350,000, the largest signing bonus that they handed out to any player during the 2010-2011 international signing period. One of Baseball America’s top international rookies that year, he didn’t exactly have the professional debut that you’d want out of one of your highest profile signings when he made his professional debut in 2011. In 49 games in the Dominican Summer League, Lupo hit .197/.325/.379. While, on the surface, the numbers are disappointing, it is important to note that, according to Paul DePodesta, Lupo was sick for much of the summer, suffering from malignant hypothermia, a severe reaction to anesthesia. Given a mulligan in 2012, he more than made up for his 2011 performance. Appearing in 65 games, Lupo put up video game numbers, hitting .343/.500/.608 with 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases. Based on his performance, Amazin’ Avenue ranked the outfielder the Mets’ 26th top prospect for the 2013 season.

Lupo was brought stateside in 2013, assigned to the GCL Mets. Limited to 37 games due to a wrist injury, the 19-year-old hit .220/.310/.385, showing neither the power nor the speed that he had in 2012. Promoted to Kingsport in 2014, Lupo hit an impressive .278/.415/.504, slugging seven home runs and stealing seven bases (including a walk-off steal of home) in between drag races that eventually got him charged with a Class B misdemeanor. Despite the impressive numbers and stories about insane feats of strength that Lupo was capable of, the outfielder did not crack Amazin’ Avenue’s 2015 Top 25 prospects list, highlighting the depth of the minor league system at the time.

The 21-year-old spent the 2015 season with the Savannah Sand Gnats and it was something of a tale of two seasons for him. In the first half of the season, the outfielder hit .200/.289/.297 in 50 games; in the second half, he hit .229/.322/.481 in 43 games. The one thing that was constant? Strikeouts. For the year, Lupo had an astounding 39.7% strikeout percentage. He had been prone to striking out earlier in his career, but the promotion to the South Atlantic League exacerbated it, as pitchers there were throwing more advanced secondary offerings than he had ever encountered.

Rather than promote him, the Mets left Lupo in Low-A for the 2016 season. At 22-years-old, he was still fairly young, and with the Mets changing affiliates from Savannah to Columbia, maybe the move from Historic Greyson Stadium- a stadium that was known for being extremely hard on hitters- to Spirit Communication Park would help. The change of scenery did not help Lupo, as he hit .221/.330/.355 in 83 games. Shortly after the season ended, he was released.

A Venezuelan of Italian descent, Lupo began playing in Europe following his release. In 2017, he played with the Rangers Redipuglia Baseball Club, an Italian Serie B team based in Fogliano Redipuglia, a municipality in northeastern Italy literally 15 minutes from the Slovenian border. In 2018, he played with T & A San Marino, an Italian Baseball League team based in San Marino, a microstate in northern Italy. He currently works as a coach at La Academia De Beisbol Tomasito Perez, a training academy in his native Venezuela.