New York Mets: Seth Lugo's Road From Obscurity To A Playoff Race
Gregory J. Fisher, USATSI

New York Mets right-hander Seth Lugo has traveled an unlikely path, scaling from irrelevance to a pennant race. 

It’s not often that players drafted in the 34th round make an impact during the heat of a playoff race, let alone appear on a big league roster in any capacity. New York Mets righty Seth Lugo is taking the road less traveled by, one that has been filled with setbacks, unlikelihood, and now, success.

Drafted from Centenary College in Louisiana, Lugo’s road to the show hasn’t been easy. After appearing in only 11 games with the Kingsport Mets in 2011, he opted for lumbar fusion surgery in the spring of 2012. That would sideline him until the following season.

He returned in 2013, posting a 3.39 ERA between class A ball Brooklyn and Savannah. A 2014 season saw him eclipse the 100 innings mark for the first time in his professional career with St. Lucie. By the time 2015 ended, he made his way to AAA Las Vegas, while his dream of the major leagues continued to grow.

“I was like 5 or 6 when I realized I wanted to play major league baseball,” Lugo said. “I never had a doubt in my mind that was what I am going to do,” Lugo told Matt Ehalt of NorthJersey.com.

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Before the season started, it was hard to imagine Lugo ever breaking into the Mets rotation given their abundance of talent. He never cracked any top ten prospects rankings from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, etc. Now, he finds himself in the heat of a playoff race, with a talent too hard to overlook.

Lugo’s minor league numbers are deceiving. His 6.50 ERA in Las Vegas this season was due largely in part to the Pacific Coast League, one of the most hitter-friendly environments in all of the minor leagues. For comparison, even Noah Syndergaard had a 4.60 ERA during his 2014 season in Vegas. Jacob deGrom posted a 4.52 ERA in 2013 at the same level.

Lugo never dominated at any level of the minors, but the talent he’s exhibited at the major league level makes one wonder why he was never considered a higher regarded prospect. He possesses a fastball that touches the mid-90s and an excellent breaking ball. Two starts ago against Miami, Lugo’s curveball registered 3,498 revolutions per minute, the highest in Statcast history.

He now carries a 2.38 ERA into Sunday’s start against Atlanta. No, Lugo won’t be facing the 1927 Yankees, but at this point in the season, every game counts the same.

Most 34th round picks are considered an afterthought. But hey, Mike Piazza was drafted in the 62nd round.

Could Lugo fizzle out and spend the majority of his career in the minors? Sure. Conversely, why can’t he lead the New York Mets to the postseason?

Why not Seth Lugo?

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