Name: William Lugo
Weight: 215 lbs.
Acquired: IFA, August 23, 2018 (Peravia, Dominican Republic)
2022 Stats: 112 G, 419 AB, .263/.347/.432, 110 H, 25 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 50 BB, 117 K, 0/0 SB, .327 BABIP (Low-A/High-A)
Having added $1 million in international bonus pool money when Jeurys Familia was traded to the Oakland Athletics on July 21, 2018, the Mets were able to continue spending on highly touted international free agents after spending nearly 80% of their original budget on the first day of the 2018-2019 signing period. Using $475,000 of that million, the Mets were able to sign Dominican third baseman William Lugo in late August 2018. He skipped over the Dominican Summer League completely and made his professional debut stateside, getting assigned to the GCL Mets in 2019. The 17-year-old appeared in 43 games and hit .158/.280/.219 in 43 games, hitting one home run, stealing one base, walking 21 times and striking out 46 times.
After missing the 2020 season because of the coronavirus, Lugo was once again rostered at the lowest level of the domestic minor leagues, assigned to the FCL Mets. He spent the entire season there, appearing in 46 games and hitting .218/.328/.372 with 6 home runs, 5 stolen bases in 6 attempts, and 23 walks to 52 strikeouts. Lugo was assigned to the St. Lucie to start the 2022 season and spent the majority of the year there, getting promoted to Brooklyn in mid-August and finishing his season there. One year younger than the average player in the Florida State League and two-and-a-half than the average South Atlantic League hitter, Lugo hit .261/.347/.427 with 10 home runs, 37 walks, and 90 strikeouts in 84 games with St. Lucie and .267/.347/.448 with 4 home runs, 13 walks, and 27 strikeouts in 28 games in Brooklyn.
The 6’3”, 215-pound Lugo is solidly built, thick and muscular from top to bottom. He stands tall at the plate with his hands held high, swinging with a big leg kick. He swings with confidence and authority, putting a jolt into the ball when he connects. As an amateur, he showed above-average raw power with the potential to have it manifest itself in-game, and it certainly began doing so in 2022. During his time in St. Lucie, he averaged an 88.6 MPH Exit Velocity on all batted ball events. He averaged a 93.4 MPH EV on all hits, a 100.8 MPH EV on his 18 doubles, a 103.9 MPH EV on his 2 triples, and a 103.7 MPH EV on his 10 home runs. Eager to show off his power, Lugo is a bit overaggressive but does not strike out at an alarmingly high rate. He has a fair eye at the plate and is able to recognize spin and lay off of borderline pitches that he has not already committed to, walking enough to mitigate the strikeouts.
Defensively, Lugo played all over the diamond in 2022, spending time at first, third and shortstop as well as serving as designated hitter. He is surprisingly agile and deceptively quick for a person his height and height thanks to a high level of athleticism. In the short term, that athleticism will allow him to continue playing on the left side of the infield, but his long-term future will likely be a less premium defensive position as he begins to slow down as he ages.
William Lugo gets lost in the shuffle of some of the Mets more established top international prospects and some of their more intriguing young and up-and-coming international talents, but the infielder is just as good. His 14 combined home runs were tenth most in the system in 2022, and he was one of four players to hit double-digit homers at 20 or younger, along with Junior Tilien, Alexander Ramirez, and Francisco Alvarez.
It’s been a slow burn for Lugo, who the Mets signed with the internal slot money they got from the A’s in the Jeurys Familia trade back in 2017. After a year lost to the pandemic and a middling season at the complex in 2021, the physically mature Lugo posted above-average lines across two Single-A levels. There’s some impressive raw power here and the ball goes far when he gets into one. At the same time, he’s not going to have a ton of defensive value and the performance was more good than great. Certainly a good season for Lugo, but he still projects as more of a corner reserve bat than a future regular.
William Lugo managed to put a mediocre 2021 in the complex behind him in 2022, posting a well above average triple slash line against two levels of A-ball pitching. Perhaps most encouragingly, Lugo managed to cut his strikeout rate from last season in his first taste of full season ball, and struck out even less after being promoted to Brooklyn to finish out the season. There is still a bit too much swing and miss in his game even after last year’s encouraging signs, but the progress is encouraging nonetheless, and further refinements in his ability to avoid punch-outs could help Lugo rise up this list in next year’s iteration.
Lugo had a small breakout- more of an arrival than anything else. Lugo was brought stateside and struggled in 2021 to the tune of a .218/.328/.372 in Rookie ball, but was much better in 2022, hitting .263/.347/.432 across Single and High-A. He’s spending most of his time at shortstop right now, but has shown an ability to move all over the diamond, notching innings at first, and third as well. While hardly a can’t-miss prospect at the time of this writing, his growth after a year in the states is palpable and something he hopes to build on.