When news started to get out that the Royals and Brewers were in fact in intense trade talks for Mike Moustakas, most of the talk on the Royals side had rightfully do with the possible main piece in outfielder Brett Phillips. For the most part, it sounded like there could be secondary pieces likely involved, but nothing was clear. But with more official reports coming out, it looks like the Royals will be receiving RHP Jorge Lopez along with Phillips.
Lopez isn’t some under-the-radar type prospect or a lottery guy. Already 25-years-old. he’s been somewhat decently regarded as a prospect. Grabbed in the second round by the Brewers in the 2011 draft, he lacked results in the lower-minors, but the raw ability was enough to have him pushed up the ranks. He put it together in as a starter in 2014 at High-A, posting a 4.58 ERA and 3.88 FIP in 137.2 innings, striking out 119 and walking 46. He went to another level at AA in 2016, owning a 2.26 ERA and 3.36 FIP in 143.1 innings, striking out 137 and walking 52. This was enough to get him a taster of the big leagues, making his debut at the age of 22 in 2015, making two starts. At this point, he was consistently popping up on top 100 lists.
Things went downhill for Lopez in 2016 once he reached Colorado Springs in AAA (a very hitter-friendly environment), posting a 6.81 ERA and 6.29 FIP in 79.1 innings, control being the main issue. 2017 would see him walking backwards, heading back to AA where he worked in both the rotation and bullpen, seeing better results as a reliever. He made one appearance out of the bullpen for the Brewers last year.
The bullpen looked like the definitive future for Lopez with the Brewers keeping him in the Colorado Springs as a reliever. The results have been lackluster working back in that hitter’s haven, owing a 5.65 ERA and 4.79 FIP in 28.2 innings. He’s made 10 appearances out of the Brewers big league bullpen this year, posting a 2.75 ERA in 19 innings, still struggling with command and control.
Getting to the repertoire, Lopez sits 94 with the fastball, touching as high as 97 MPH, owning a four-seamer and a sinker. He’s trusted his offspeeds in the bullpen more, throwing a low-80s curveball as his main secondary offering and adding in an 86-89 MPH changeup. He has flashed strikeout potential, but the control issues have held him back from those big numbers. Nonetheless, he’s stayed pretty consistent as a ground ball machine, limiting the damage on batted balls with a 62.2% GB-rate.
Here’s the sinker. It runs with plus-movement and decent velocity.
As does the four-seamer.
And to sample the secondaries, here’s a beautiful curveball he threw. It’s probably my favorite pitch of his.
His windup is interesting and drawn out as you can see above. The stretch is way more simple and low-effort. I must add the quick arm speed here is beautiful. The consistency in the angle need works though, as noticed by his control issues.
There is no question with the raw ability of Lopez. The results throughout his career have been extremely inconsistent and the walk numbers have held him back big time. Take that as you will, but it seems like he’s one of the pitchers that could be one adjustment away from turning into a legit late inning option. If not, the control will keep him as a fringe-big leaguer that will likely never make it.
All in all, I like Lopez as the second piece to a Moustakas deal. It should be interesting to see where the Royals put him until September, as I could see him spending some time in Omaha or jumping straight to the Royals bullpen.