A-Ball Saturday: Seth Lugo? Yup, Seth Lugo

@ St. Lucie Mets 5, Palm Beach Cardinals 4 

C Kevin Plawecki (.326/.429/.420 – 41 gms) doubled in the bottom of the tenth inning, and eventually scored the winning run on an infield single from Rylan Sandoval. Just another two-hit night for Plawecki: 2-for-4, 2B, BB, R.

Hansel Robles, meh: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.

 

A: @ Savannah Sand Gnats 2, Hickory Crawdads (TEX) 0 

Hello, Seth Lugo. Making his second South Atlantic League start against the highest-ceiling lineup in the League, Lugo, who will turn 24 in November was outstanding: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 K.

He was in trouble once – when two singles and a sacrifice bunt in the fifth put runners at second and third before he struck out the 8 and 9 hitters to end the threat.

Who? The Mets’ 34th round pick out of Centenary in 2011, Lugo missed all of the 2012 season after lumbar fusion surgery. He was ordinary (4.19 ERA, 27/13 K/BB ratio) in 34.1 innings in Brooklyn. He’s been lights out in two starts with the Gnats.

His two Gnats’ starts combined: 13 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 21 K. This really came out of nowhere. He did not have a 10 strikeout performance in seven tries for Brooklyn. He’s struck out 10 or more in both of his Savannah outings. His game score (Bill James version) peaked at 62 for Brooklyn. His first SAL start was a 74 and Saturday was an 80. 

So, how’s he doing it? First and foremost, by spotting his fastball. He worked to both sides of the plate and was able to elevate, to a batter’s hands and then above the letters to induce a chase when he needed. He mostly lived 88-91 mph on his fastball accounting for 60 some-odd pitches. When he reached back there was more in there: he threw 11 pitches above 91, mixing in 92, 93 a couple 94s and one 95. His best off-speed pitch is a over-the-top curveball that he threw 72-79, but was mostly 74-76. He rung up Crawdads both looking (Jorge Alfaro and Lewis Brinson) and swinging (Chris Garia) at the curve. All four of his 85-86 mph sliders were strikes. At 81-85, his changeup, which he didn’t throw that much had enough separation from his fastball.

I’m pretty skeptical of any right-hander that sits at 88-91. It’s just a really hard way to make a living at the higher levels of the minors, let alone the big leagues. That just does not play in today’s game as a Major League starter in the vast majority of cases. On the other hand, Lugo has size (6’4″, and north of 200 lbs), the ability to reach back for more and feel for a curveball and slider. Perhaps airing it out in short appearances, he can work in the low 90s and be a valuable bullpen piece.

 

CF Brandon Nimmo: 1-for-3, HBP, K. He reached base twice against a lefty, Frank Lopez who had it working Saturday night. His single was bounced right back up the middle when he did a nice job pulling his hands in to stay inside the ball. Nimmo is 12-for-25 (.480) on the Gnats’ six-game homestand. A good week against lefthanders has brought his season line against southpaws to .247/.356/.286 in 77 AB.

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