This article was published earlier this week for those who support the site through Patreon. You too can get perks from the site if you support the work here on Patreon. Check it out at the link above (that orange picture right above this text).
The Cincinnati Reds drafted right handed pitcher Jose Lopez out of Seton Hall in 2014. He wouldn’t debut with the organization until 2015, as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery that he had while in college. He’s worked his way through each level along the way, starting with Billings.
In the 2017 season Jose Lopez began the year in Daytona. With the Tortugas he made nine starts and performed very well. The 23-year-old right hander posted a 2.84 ERA in 50.2 innings with 14 walks and 48 strikeouts. That performance was strong enough to earn him a promotion to Double-A.
Jose Lopez was not greeted well in his debut with Pensacola. He was touched up for four runs in 4.2 innings. He allowed two home runs and walked six batters in the game. Things have gone much better since that initial start, though. In the 10 starts since that game he’s posted a 2.56 ERA for the Blue Wahoos in 56.1 innings with 19 walks and 56 strikeouts while allowing just six home runs.
While I was in Pensacola last month Jose Lopez may have had his best start of the year. He allowed one run in 7.0 innings against Chattanooga. That came along with just one walk and he struck out 11 batters. On the night he was showing a quality breaking ball along with controlling the strikezone.
Jose Lopez Scouting Report
The fastball on this particular night was working 91-92 MPH and touching slightly higher. One scout that I spoke with had seen him earlier in the year and had him sitting 91-95. While the velocity doesn’t jump off of the page at you, once scout that was in attendance referred to it as “an invisi-ball”, noting how well he hid the baseball from the hitters throughout his windup.
He’s been working on some mechanical things this season. Pitching coach Danny Darwin noted that they’ve been working on slowing him down in his wind up to help give him a bit more consistency in repeating things. They’ve also worked to shorten up things on the back-end as he loads behind his back before coming forward with the ball.
Jose Lopez was throwing both a slider and a curveball on the night. The curveball looked better to me with good 12-6 breaking action. His slider was a bit inconsistent, but was a solid-average offering at times. The change up worked in the low 80’s on the night and was also solid offering. He went to the pitch less often than the breaking stuff, which has been similar to times in the past when I’ve seen him pitch on video as well as in person.
The upside for Jose Lopez probably isn’t more than as a middle of the rotation starter. There’s nothing wrong with that, and his four pitch mix could play well in the rotation. If he eventually slides into a bullpen role for whatever reason it will be interesting to see how much his stuff can play up in shorter stints. In college he was touching 97 MPH before he had Tommy John surgery, and his breaking ball can certainly be an above-average offering now.
For now I would definitely keep him as a starting pitcher. He’s got to be placed on the 40-man roster this winter to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. I would be very surprised if the team didn’t protect him. In the long run, though, at least with the Reds, he may not have a spot in the rotation and could transition to the bullpen. That time is still a ways away, though.