At this point in Alay Lago’s career, there is one thing that is known for sure, the dude is a hitter. In fact, he’s one of the purest hitters to come out of Cuba in some time. What’s great about that statement is that when he left Cuba he wasn’t considered that great of a hitter. He had a decent bat, but he was able to get a shot with an affiliated franchise because of the power scouts believed was hidden within his bat. The power never came, but that has never mattered as outside of one bad stretch in Liga Mexicana del Pacífico in 2019-2020 Lago has hit everywhere he has played.
When he signed to play with Tren del Norte de Real Estelí in Nicaragua’s Liga de Béisbol Profesional Nacional this winter there was little doubt that he would carry over his high contact approach. However, I don’t think many people expected him to go out and break the all-time LBPN record for hits in a single season. That’s just what Lago did, with his 83rd hit of the season. He’s done all of this with a Tren del Norte squad that is a shell of its 2020-2021 version and has been living on the edge of elimination all season long.
The reason Tren has been able to keep pace despite being clearly outmatched in most areas: Lago. Combined on the year he is slashing .413/.452/.558 in 225 plate appearances. That’s the sort of offensive production that a team can ride all year long. Tren did that and Lago has been more than willing to carry the load and then some. It’s not surprising to those who have watched Lagio play these past few years in unaffiliated ball, though it may be surprising to those who wrote the initial scouting reports on the La Habana native.
Lago is another Cuban hitter who found himself pigeonholed by the affiliated development process. The fact that he had the ability to be a good hitter is never what the Atlanta National League Ballclub coaches were after. They wanted the power he had to have hidden in his 6’0” frame. If they could unlock that power and combine it with his slick fielding at second base they would have a heck of a player on their hands. That’s why after a few short seasons Atlanta gave up on Lago and no one else within the affiliated ranks were willing to give Lago another shot.
At 30-years-old the days of Lago as some prospect with unrealized potential are long over. Besides, he has found all his potential and then some. He’s not the player the scouts thought he would be. But, he’s a consistent .300+ hitter who can find the outfield gaps with the best of them. He’s among the best second baseman in the world, and that’s including anyone in affiliated ball. The type of player that is Alay Lago isn’t really welcome in the affiliated world any longer, but their loss is the rest of the baseball world’s gain. It’s only a matter of time until Tren finds themselves eliminated from the playoffs, but there’s no stopping Lago and his ability to hit the baseball. Whether it’s this season or the next, he’s going to hit and everyone is going to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Editor’s Note: I was mistaken and LBPN does count regular season and postseason statistics together. The article above has been corrected to reflect the accurate season totals for Lago. Credit to Twitter user La bola loca for bringing the mistake to my attention.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Tren del Norte de Real Estelí