There isn’t exactly a consensus for the top ten in the Red Sox prospect rankings (nine before Jeter Downs was added), but I think for the most part there is a fairly clear couple of tiers in that group. Beyond them, opinions start to split. That is true as you get further down in any system, and it just so happens that we’ve reached that point with Boston’s. As we get there, the number eleven (ten without Downs) prospect is the top prospect from last year’s draft. That would be Matthew Lugo, who got just 30 percent of a fairly competitive vote.
The Red Sox were in a bit of a strange position in last year’s draft. If you’ll recall, after going more than $40 million over the luxury tax threshold in 2018 (well worth it, of course, given the championship) they had their first pick moved back ten spots. That technically gave them two second round picks to start off their draft, and as it turns out many see their second pick as the better prospect, or at least the one with more upside.
That would be Matthew Lugo, who admittedly was not very much on my radar heading into the draft. He was a shortstop coming out of Puerto Rico, having played at the Carlos Beltrán Baseball Academy. Lugo is Beltrán’s nephew. There are a lot of good shortstops, most notably Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez, to come out of Puerto Rico in the last decade or so. Lugo is not on their level, but he was pretty highly thought of before the draft. The shortstop was a top 30 draft prospect according to both FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline, though Baseball America had him down at number 74.
As he entered the Red Sox organization, he was seen as a potential all-around player, but one who had a relatively long way to go. Unsurprisingly, he was put in the Gulf Coast League for most of his first summer as a pro before getting a very short taste of Lowell before the season ended. In all, he played in 41 games and got 165 plate appearances, hitting .247/.337/.326 in that first taste of pro ball while playing all of his non-DH games (of which he played nine) at shortstop.
Obviously, it’s more about projection than production for Lugo at this point, who was just drafted and doesn’t turn 19 until May. There’s a lot of variance in what scouts think Lugo can be moving forward, and everything is couched with the idea that things can change quickly as his career progresses. That’s just the way things are for players as far away as him. That said, most agree that he has a chance at at least an average hit tool, with many seeing a shot at something a little above-average. While the power has a long way to go, many see that being about average at full maturity as well. Throw in a good chance at sticking at shortstop, as well as solid athleticism and baserunning, and you have a potentially average across-the-board player at shortstop. That may not sound super exciting, but that’s an everyday player for a long time. Of course, that’s also with everything going relatively close to right.
This year will be an interesting one for the young shortstop, with Lugo having spent the entire winter as a professional and getting more time with Red Sox coaches. That said, don’t expect to see him until the summer, as a push to full-season ball would appear a bit aggressive at this point. Instead, he’ll likely start the year in Lowell and if things go well he could get a cup of coffee in Greenville at the end of the year.
Here are our rankings so far:
1A. Jeter Downs
1B. Triston Casas
2. Bobby Dalbec
3. Bryan Mata
4. Noah Song
6. Jay Groome
7. Jarren Duran
8. Thad Ward
9. Tanner Houck
10. Matthew Lugo
Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number two. As a reminder, to do this you go down below and find the comment from me corresponding with the player for whom you’d like to vote. When you find said player, just click the “rec” button, and that will count your vote. To do this, you will need to be logged in as a member of the site. If you’d like to vote for a player who is not listed, just leave a comment saying “Vote for ___ here” and I’ll rec the comment to count your vote. Until next time...