July 30, 2014
Every young baseball player dreams of being on the same field with their favorite player. While some players get the chance, very few are in the same position as Dawel Lugo who is gunning to be the Blue Jays shortstop of the future. A role currently filled by his childhood idol, Jose Reyes.
Just as Reyes is impressing fans in Toronto, Lugo is making a name for himself in Lansing. The Dominican Republic native is batting .282 with 16 doubles, two triples, three home runs, and 43 RBIs in the Midwest League. Lugo has also displayed above-average defensive skills, turning 41 double plays and currently sporting a .948 fielding percentage.
It’s safe to say Lugo is meeting all expectations of him which only got higher after an excellent 2013 season split between the Bluefield Blue Jays (Appalachian League) and the Vancouver Canadians (Northwest League). Lugo batted .297 with 11 doubles, two triples, six home runs, and 36 RBIs win Bluefield before finishing up his 2013 in Vancouver, where he batted .246 with four doubles and eight RBIs.
Lugo ended his season in Vancouver, helping his team the NWL Championship. A moment he said was something he would never forget.
“Winning the championship was a lot of fun,” said Lugo. “I remember getting really happy, because I made the final out. It was a big game for me.”
Working with Lugo the past two seasons, Hitting Coach Ken Huckaby has nothing but praise for the young shortstop. He also believes the fans in Lansing are in for a treat for the remainder of the season.
“Dawel is a kid that’s going to turn a lot of heads,” explained Huckaby. “He’s starting to show the signs of Lugo. Everybody knows he can hit, but he’s really warming up and will definitely start impressing people. He’s exciting to watch.”
Getting the opportunity to work with Huckaby again was exciting for Lugo who admitted that he really enjoys learning from his mentor. “I like his approach to the game,” he said. “He’s very knowledgeable and makes the game fun.”
“Huckaby always has tips for me before every at-bat,” he continued. “I’ve learned a lot from him the past two seasons. He’s a great guy.”
The Blue Jays are fully vested in Lugo’s future, giving the young prospect a $1.3 million signing bonus when he joined the organization as an international free agent in 2011.
“When I found out Toronto wanted to sign me, I was very happy,” Lugo recalled. “I knew I wanted to sign right away. I thanked God for giving me the ability to be a professional baseball player. It was an exciting moment for sure.”
Family is very important to Lugo. In fact his father Ursino was once a Cleveland Indians minor leaguer and evidently, his father had a major influence on Dawel’s career.
“[My dad] got me started and taught me what I needed to know to get to this level,” Lugo said with a smile. “I could never thank him enough for what he has done for me in baseball and life.”
At just 19-years old, Lugo’s road to the major league might take a little time. The process is fine with him, as he has enjoyed every stop he’s made so far in the Blue Jays minor league system and he’s excited for the future.
“Every place I’ve played has been a lot of fun,” said Lugo. “Each city had different things to do, but they were all great places to play with amazing fans.”
“Honestly, I just love playing baseball!”