“With the 320th pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, the Atlanta Braves select catcher Drew Lugbauer“.

Rob Manfred

From the time that Lugbauer started catching, the Braves org likely knew he wouldn’t stick. That first year in pro ball, he saw more innings at 1B than C. However, 2018 was different. The Braves org flipped the script and Lugbauer caught a total of 553 innings for the then Low A Rome Braves. And since his year at Low-A. Lugbauer has only caught a grand total of 7 innings and has been relegated to mostly 1B and DH duties. The team saw more potential in the bat than the glove and the nickname Slugbauer was born. Lugbauer is now 26 years old, will be 27 in a few days time, and he finally made it to the stop before the show, 30 minutes down the road from Truist. Will he make it to the bigs? That’s the question I’ll try to answer.

Scouting the Stat-Lines: Drew Lugbauer

24.2%, 29.2%, 33.2%, 34.3%, 37.4%, 34.4%, 25%.

I’d love to be able to tell you that Lugbauer is the most patient hitter in the entire span of professional baseball, but I cannot. The numbers above are his K-rates through the years. And yes, if you’re unaware, these are all MILB numbers.

Then we have these numbers: 15.3%, 6.2%, 9.3%, 7.3%, 12%,13.5%, 13.6%

I know you’re all thinking it so I’ll let the cat out of the bag. Is Slugbauer a 3 true outcomes player. Yes, the above is his walk rates over the years, and while they’re not equal to those of Joey Gallo, they’re still really strong.

And lastly, these numbers: .573, .462, .374, .361, .453, .443, .635, 1.250

The dude can absolutely without a doubt destroy baseballs. What’s more is he produced his best offensive year in the most pitching friendly league in all of professional ball.

In 2023, between AA and AAA, Lugbauer has a .278/.381/.629 slash with 23 HRs in 286 PAs. It took him awhile to finally breakout, but it’s a real one and surpasses his last year’s OPS total by .239 points.

Lowering the Ks?

The Braves already have a 1B and they’re not going to be moving Matt Olson anytime soon, so Lugbauer, if he makes it to the bigs, it’ll likely be with another team. And the elephant in the room has always been the K%. And while the 2022 Braves led the league in strikeouts, the 2023 Braves are bucking that trend and have the 6th lowest strikeout % in MLB. Surely this team-wide success points to the great Kevin Seitzer and his analytical team. Could Lugbauer be the next project? The power is there. The patience is there. If Lugbauer could reduce his rate to 25%, the power could play.

The Verdict

Drew Lugbauer is in the mold of Joey Gallo in that he has light-tower power, good patience, and strikes out more than 21 y/o Ryan bar-hopping. While the similarities to Gallo offensively are spot on, the fact that Lugbauer is strictly a DH/1B type weighs heavily to the negative. Verdict: If Seitzer can wave his wand and cut Lug’s K-rate to 20-25%, he has a chance. If not, he’ll always be the star no one knows.

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