Nicky Lopez entered Wednesday night’s Omaha Storm Chasers game with this line:
.340/.429/.456/.885 with a 3.75 BB/K and 128 wRC+.
Then on Wednesday, he did this:
He’s leading all of MiLB in K% (3.2%) and BB/K (4.25), he’s 4th in SwStr% (3.4%), and after going 3-3 with a pair of walks in Wednesday night’s game, he owns a career best .952 OPS in 28 games at AAA. What’s more, if you remove the first four games of the season in which Nicky Lopez went hitless, he’s hitting .413. He’s proven that he’s too good for Minor League Baseball, and it just seems like a matter of time until he’s patrolling the infield for Kansas City. The only real question left is, when?
Dayton Moore does a weekly interview with the Royals radio broadcast every Sunday over at 610 Sports KC. This past Sunday, the guys asked him about Nicky Lopez and when his time might come to join the big league ball club. The one big thing that Dayton kept coming back to was “opportunity.” There has to be an opportunity for Nicky Lopez to get every day playing time in the big leagues before they’ll call him up, and right now there isn’t that opportunity.
The first thing that every body tweets us (every…single…night) is, “DFA CHRIS OWINGS AND CALL UP NICKY!” I mean, yeah. I’d love that. Here’s the thing. Even if Chris Owings gets DFA’d, there’s still not enough at-bats to go around for everyone that needs every day PA. Let’s say that Chris Owings was DFA’d. Here’s a list of guys that still need to be playing every day:
- Hunter Dozier
- Kelvin Gutierrez
- Adalberto Mondesi
- Whit Merrifield
- Nicky Lopez
- Ryan O’Hearn
- Alex Gordon
- Jorge Soler
That’s 8 dudes fighting for 7 spots in the lineup. None of those guys can play CF every day and none of them catch. So someone has to sit, every day, someone sits. In reality, it’s probably doable. You could rotate the guys enough that Nicky or O’Hearn sit against a tough lefty or maybe KG against a tough righty or something, but that’s not what you want in a non-competitive season. Ideally, you run the same lineup out there every day and let guys develop.
But then, when will it ever be time for Nicky Lopez to get big league action? None of those guys are going anywhere anytime soon barring a trade, which really leaves us with three options (barring an injury which is impossible to predict):
- The Royals will move Nicky up and find a way to get everyone PA, even if they are out of position at times.
- The Royals will make a trade some time soon and open up a spot for Nicky
- They let him destroy the PCL and don’t promote him until August (barring injury)
I can’t begin to tell you when Nicky Lopez will debut. Based on everything he’s done, he’s earned it. Any kind of injury could allow him to be manning a spot on the infield immediately. I doubt the Royals make a trade this early in the year, but crazier things have happened. In any case, Nicky Lopez has absolutely earned his promotion, now it’s just a waiting game.
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Here is a link to the interview with Dayton Moore that I referenced, courtesy of 610 Sports Radio: