Zale Lugo is working on his game this summer so he’s prepared to return to the field with Ocoee High’s baseball team next year.
Despite having his first season at Ocoee High cut short, rising sophomore Zale Lugo still managed to be one of the team’s best hitters. Now, during the summer, Lugo will work on his game in the Perfect Game organization — which recently named him Top 10 in its 2023 Follow List.
When did you first get into baseball?
A lot of my friends in my neighborhood play baseball. I used to play soccer, but I saw them playing it, and I wanted to try it out one day. I was actually really good, so I stuck with it, and here I am.
Did the game get harder when you transitioned to Ocoee?
It wasn’t a big transition, because it’s still the same game. The kids are obviously different — they’re older and bigger — but I just played the same as I’ve always played, and it worked out pretty well.
Is there anything you’re trying to work on this summer?
I’m just trying to crush baseballs still — that’s what I like doing. I’ve been doing a lot of sprints, running and agility. I always get my fielding in — I’ve been working on that a lot — and I’ve been hitting every day.
What are the best words of advice you’ve been given about baseball?
Be good when you need to be good. That’s what I go by — coach told me that when I was 12 years old.
What’s been the biggest change you’ve seen in the game of baseball since you first started?
Probably just the pitching. For a while, it was all the same speed, and now I’m seeing a variety — a lot more faster stuff and seeing 89 to 90 (miles per hour) on a good basis.
Is there a highlight moment that stands out to you during your shortened freshman season?
I was playing our rival school, West Orange — and they don’t like me very much over there or whatever — but I hit two doubles, and I was going off that game. It was a great game.
Do you have a favorite player?
Joey Votto on the Reds. He is a great first baseman, he is a great hitter and he is a good defensive player. He’s who I look up to and who I try to model my game after.
What is your favorite part about playing first/third base? The most challenging part?
I like playing first base because you can show off your athleticism. A lot of people just put the biggest kid at first, but I go over there, and I try to make the difficult plays. The hardest part about playing first base is people make bad throws a lot, and you have to pick them up. Third base, it’s just all the hot shots — that’s where you get the hardest balls hit, so a lot them pop up on you and get up on you quick.
When you get any kind of free time, what do you like to do?
I like playing a few other sports just for fun — not for another team or anything. I’ll throw the football around sometimes and play basketball a little bit.