Nicky Lopez has turned heads around the baseball world this fall with his performance in the AZFL. He’s leading the league in hitting and has an OPS of over 1.000. Those are some massive numbers for a SS in “Prospect Finishing School.”
Lopez has been impressive this fall. He impressed earlier this summer too with a monster first half at High-A. He’s made the case with his play that he ought to be one of KC’s top 10 prospects.
But let us not stray too far from reality. Nicky Lopez has given himself a decent shot to reach the big leagues in 2018 thanks to his performance in the AZFL, but he’s still never taken a AAA at-bat. He also struggled during the 232 at-bats he received in AA last year: putting up an OPS of .605.
Some have suggested that Lopez’ AZFL performance may be good enough for him to start at SS for the KC Royals on Opening Day in 2018. Slow down folks, and stop slandering my guy Raul Mondesi Jr.
Let’s take a moment and compare the two young prospects.
- Age: Both 22, Lopez is 4 months older
- OPS in 2018: Lopez (A+ & AA)- .704, Mondesi (AAA)- .879
- Better defender at SS: Mondesi
- Better speed: Mondesi
- Better projected power: Mondesi
- Better arm: Mondesi
- Better projected hit tool: Lopez
Folks, I love Nicky Lopez as a prospect. I think there’s a chance that he could be a really special player for KC. I am drooling at the thought of him playing 2B in KC. The MIF combo of Mondesi and Lopez at the end of 2018 is something we should all be looking froward to.
But Nicky Lopez will start the year in Omaha. He was not sent to the AZFL to be ready for MLB action next spring. He was sent to the AZFL so that he could be ready for AAA action, because his performance at AA suggested that he was not ready yet.
I’m sure I’ll get some flack for “hating on Lopez,” but that’s simply not what I am doing. I think Lopez has a shot to end the season as KC’s starting second baseman.
What I am doing is reminding you folks that Raul Mondesi was once-upon-a-time a top 30 prospect in all of baseball. If the Royals hadn’t botched his development this past year, fans would be clamoring about what an amazing year Mondesi had at AAA.
But no. Instead, the Royals tried to rush Mondesi to KC and fans saw exactly what he was: a 21-year old who was not fit for MLB action. The exact same thing you would have seen from Nicky Lopez if he would’ve been sent to Minnesota for Opening Day last April.
Nicky Lopez has a chance to be a very good ball player for KC. Raul Mondesi has a chance to be a GREAT player in KC. Lopez’ rise has given some fans hope about KC’s future, but make no mistake: Raul Mondesi is the future for this team at SS, and he’s the one that your mouth ought to be watering for when Opening Day rolls around next spring.