The Cincinnati Reds made it official at 11:33am this morning, calling up Alejo Lopez from Triple-A Louisville. Late last night he confirmed the news on his instagram page after there were some rumors floating around about it late on Sunday night.
It is tough to know exactly how and where the team will play and use Alejo Lopez. He mostly plays second base, but he’s also played third base both this season and in the past, and he’s had some limited experience playing left field while with Monterrey in the Mexican Winter League. For the last month those spots have been played by Jonathan India, Eugenio Suárez, and Jesse Winker in Cincinnati. Lopez isn’t being called up to push one of those guys to the bench.
That seems to leave open two options, assuming there’s not an injury to one of those players that we haven’t yet heard about: Pinch hitting Alejo Lopez almost every day, or playing him at third base until Mike Moustakas returns and sliding Eugenio Suárez back to shortstop.
Both of those options present some problems. Using Alejo Lopez as a pinch-hitter certainly provides a better option in many cases than what the Reds have been going to. This season he’s hitting .355/.428/.487 from the left side and he’s hitting .375/.464/.479 from the right side. Against a left-handed pitcher he may be even more dangerous in some situations – he’s struck out just once in 56 trips to the plate. One time. If you need contact he’s likely to make it. With that said, it would almost feel like a waste to use him in such a limited role.
If you start him at third base the problem is less about what he can do. The problem is that Eugenio Suárez has been the worst defensive shortstop in baseball by a wide margin when he’s been out there this season. With Kyle Farmer dropping his OPS under the .600 mark, though, the trade off between adding in the bat of Lopez and the downgrade in defense from benching Farmer at shortstop may still be a net positive.
At the plate Alejo Lopez is doing a lot of things right. This season he’s hit .360/.437/.485 with 19 doubles and two home runs in 49 games played between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville. He’s walked 24 times and struck out just 19 times in 229 plate appearances. At the plate you’re going to get a strong approach at the plate, little swing-and-miss from either side of the plate, and doubles power that has to be respected. In Great American Ballpark there could be some extra home runs with how right field plays, though we still shouldn’t expect a bunch of home runs showing up out of nowhere.
Defensively he’s a solid defender. He doesn’t make many errors on the infield. He’s not likely to wow you with his range, but he makes the routine play. If he winds up in the outfield – well, I can’t comment much on that. His only outfield action came last winter with Monterrey and I simply haven’t had enough viewing opportunities to chime in on how he looked out there.
Career Minor League Stats