Lopez has been tremendous in the minors for the Royals so far in his career. He plays solid defense, can make all the throws, has a little bit of pop in his bat, is a great contact hitter, can run a little, and walks more than he strikes out.
The Royals called up Lopez on Monday when the team was relaxing at home for off day. GMDM was complementary to Lopez saying he “is our kind of player.” It looks like the Royals will give Lopez an extended look at second base while Merrifield moves to the outfield more often. This will give Owings a few more days off and hopefully he will be fresh on days he is called upon. Bringing Lopez up only makes the Royals a deeper team. Lopez made his MLB Debut in the two hole for the Royals.
Shelby Miller was the first pitcher Lopez faced. Miller threw a 93 mph fastball Lopez took for a strike. The second pitch was a 92 mph fastball Lopez fouled off. Miller tried to put him away 95 up and in but Lopez fouled it off. Miller followed this with a change up away off the plate. Lopez then flicked a 94 mph the other way for a deep F7. On the play, Whit tagged up and advanced to third. Even though he was 0-1, Lopez had a professional at bat seeing five pitches and moving the runner.
In his second at bat, Lopez came up with the bases loaded. He swung at the first pitch which was a curve. He hit a ground ball to second which turned into a force out. Lopez went on to score his first career run when Hunter Dozier shot a ball through the right side. Lopez’s run was the sixth of the night for the Royals.
In his third at bat, Lopez faced RHP Wei-Chieh Huang. Merrifield was thrown out stealing on the first pitch. Huang went 3-0 on Lopez throwing a fastball for a strike before walking him. Lopez went to second on a curve in the dirt during Mondesi’s at bat and then third in Gordon’s at bat.
For his fourth at bat, he faced RHP Kyle Dowdy with Billy Hamilton on second. The first pitch was a fastball away for strike one followed by ball one. Lopez then hit a 95 mph fastball in the other way for a fly out to left.
In his fifth at bat Lopez faced Ariel Jurado with Whit Merrifield on second base. Merrifield had just reached on his 500th career hit. Lopez swung at the first pitch he saw lacing the 94 mph fastball into left field for his first major league hit and RBI.
Lopez should continue to play in the Royals lineup and get an extended look at second base. It sounds as though Yost played a big role in getting Nicky to the team and is ready to let him learn at the MLB level. Hopefully he continues to get on base like he did in his debut.