The rebuilding Milwaukee Brewers have made several trades this season, but perhaps most memorable is the infamous “trade that didn’t happen” with the New York Mets a few days prior to the July 31st deadline. Milwaukee agreed to send CF Carlos Gomez to the big apple in exchange for the young combination of infielder Wilmer Flores and injured righty starter Zack Wheeler before the Mets’ nixed the deal after concerns about Gomez’s hip.
Before agreeing to the deal that eventually fell through, Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin and Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson no doubt discussed a myriad of potential scenarios. I recently learned that one of the players the Brewers’ targeted during trade season was Seth Lugo, a right handed pitcher ranked as the Mets’ number 28th prospect by MLB Pipeline. According to a source that is close with the Lugo family, the Brewers were “actively trying” to include Lugo in trade talks with New York before the deal ended up being negated. Though he didn’t come to Milwaukee before the trade deadline, the Brewers have remained keen on Lugo and have expressed interest in giving him a look during the Rule 5 draft in December. I’ve been told the Cubs are also interested in the young pitcher. Lugo’s agent, Joshua Kusnick, did not deny the interest when I reached out to him via Twitter.
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Seth Lugo is definitely not your average prospect. He played his collegiate ball at small Centenary College in Louisiana, a school that transitioned from Division I to Division III the year after Lugo’s departure. After a nondescript college career, Lugo was chosen in the 34th round in the 2011 draft and began his career in the Appalachian League. During Spring Training in 2012, Lugo was diagnosed with nerve damage in his spine and had to undergo a lumbar spinal fusion surgery. He missed all of 2012 while rehabbing, but has performed well enough over the last few seasons after returning to establish himself as a legitimate prospect.
Now 25 years old, Lugo split time between AA and AAA this season, starting 24 games and posting an 8-7 record. Lugo pitched to a combined 3.84 ERA/3.45 FIP across 136.0 innings, striking out 127 hitters while walking just 35, and posting a 1.25 WHIP and 43.4% ground ball rate. He made good gains with his control this season, cutting two and a half points off of his walk rate to a minuscule 6.0%. According to Adam Rubin of ESPN, Lugo throws a four seam and two seam fastball in addition to a slider, curveball, and changeup. He generally sits in the 92-94 MPH range on his heater and has hit 96 MPH in games. His MLB.com profile rates his fastball and curve as his best pitches, noting that his changeup lags behind those two. Though he’s worked mostly as a starter during his career, Lugo could successfully transition to the bullpen in the big leagues if his third offering doesn’t develop any further, given how dominant his fastball/curveball combination can be.
Seth Lugo was left unprotected prior to last year’s Rule 5 draft and went unchosen, which isn’t too surprising given he’d never thrown above high-A. The Mets’ will surely have a tougher decision ahead of themselves this winter, as Lugo’s success in the high minors during his terrific 2015 campaign already has him on the radar of at least two teams. The Brewers are currently projected for the fourth pick in this year’s Rule 5 draft and should have a terrific opportunity to snap Lugo up if he isn’t added to the Mets’ 40 man roster. There will be plenty of roster turnover in Milwaukee this winter, and if the Brewers can add a talented arm like Seth Lugo to the fold it would give them yet another legitimate option for the future of the pitching staff.