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Prospect spotlight: Reynaldo Lopez

Dec 5, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

Photo by the Associated Press

Age on Opening Day 2016: 22

How acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2012

Position: Starting pitcher

Prospect Rank: No. 5 in Nats’ org. (Baseball America)

2015 Level/Team: A-Potomac

2015 Stats: 19 G, 19 GS, 4.09 ERA, 99 IP, 93 H, 47 R, 45 ER, 5 HR, 28 BB, 94 SO, 3 HBP, 9 WP, 6-7, CG, 1.222 WHIP, 8.5 SO/9, 3.36 K/BB

2015 Analysis: Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez entered the 2015 season as the third-ranked prospect in the Nationals’ organization by Baseball America after an impressive 2014 campaign that saw him post a 1.08 ERA in 16 starts split between the Auburn Doubledays and the Single-A Hagerstown Suns. That earned him a slight bump up to High-A Potomac for 2015, where he made 19 total starts from early May to late August.

Lopez did not find the same level of success with the P-Nats, posting a 4.09 ERA across 99 total innings. He was strong early in the season with only one earned run through three starts (17 IP), but quickly found trouble for an extended stretch. From May 22 to June 26 – a span of seven starts – Lopez allowed 25 earned runs on 42 hits and nine walks in 31 innings. That was good for a 7.26 ERA as opponents hit .326 against him in those outings.

But just as Lopez started the season well, he finished with impressive numbers over his last five starts. He held a 2.25 ERA with 30 strikeouts and six walks in 28 total innings. Opponents hit just .196/.250/.258 in those games. Lopez’ season ended with a minor back injury that put him on the disabled list in August.

2016 Outlook: Lopez battled inconsistency in 2015, but seemed to find a groove down the stretch before getting hurt. Perhaps that success can be carried into the 2016 season, where he will likely start again at Potomac.

If he does go back to Potomac, it may not be for long if he pitches like he did late in 2015. Lopez turns 22 on Jan. 4 and the Nationals would like to see him start gaining some momentum and climb the ranks of their farm system. He has eye-popping stuff with a fastball that sits in the upper-90s and reaches triple digits, and he’s proven for most of his brief professional career that his skills translate to games. But he will need to get back on track in 2016 to continue moving up the ladder.

A best-case scenario for Lopez could conceivably include an MLB debut in 2016. We have seen the Nationals pull pitchers from the Double-A ranks before and Lopez is likely to be there at some point in 2016.

As is the case for many young pitchers who throw hard, Lopez will need to improve his command in 2016. If he can harness his high-90s heat, he will continue to develop as one of the most promising pitching prospects in the Nats’ organization.

  1. nats1924 - Dec 5, 2015 at 11:30 AM

    Definitely excited to see more of Lopez. Could be diamond in the rough..

    To change gears – Greinke. We all know these huge contracts typically end up being disasters for mlb teams.

    But this Greinke deal to the dbacks!!?? Crazy! …this one might go down as the worst in history.

    go Nats!

    • veejh - Dec 5, 2015 at 11:51 AM

      Sounds kind of like a contract the Nats go themselves into last season.

  2. nats1924 - Dec 5, 2015 at 11:32 AM

    …it seems like dbacks are making a push. Strasburg to DBacks a possibility?

    • unkyd59 - Dec 5, 2015 at 12:07 PM

      Boy… Some of us seem determined to move Stras! Who will you plug into the rotation to replace him?!

      • veejh - Dec 5, 2015 at 12:24 PM

        Obviously, we’ll need Stras to make a push for the division. If the season doesn’t go well, move him at the deadline. That’s how I see this working out. He’s not signing an extension, he will test free agency.

  3. unkyd59 - Dec 5, 2015 at 11:51 AM

    It’s nice to begin having some young international signings make noise in the system.

    • Doc - Dec 5, 2015 at 1:02 PM

      You got that right, unkyd59!

    • Sonny G 10 - Dec 5, 2015 at 2:56 PM

      +1

  4. Jeff - Dec 5, 2015 at 11:58 AM

    Bullpen Lopez

  5. trfwans - Dec 5, 2015 at 4:39 PM

    Some will say that Grienke signing with AZ rather than LA is a net plus for the Nats, because it weakens the Dodgers. Not true. It’s actually a net minus. The Nats have traditionally had trouble beating the Dodgers no matter who pitches, and they’ve also had trouble beating Grienke. They will still face him just as much from now on, and now those losses won’t coincide with losses to the Dodgers.

    • natsjackinfl - Dec 5, 2015 at 5:11 PM

      Nobody says that. Grienke signing with anyone not in the NL East has zero bearing on the Nats.

      Pretty useless comment considering this is about Reynaldo Lopez.

      • unkyd59 - Dec 5, 2015 at 5:23 PM

        +1

      • Section 222 - Dec 5, 2015 at 8:13 PM

        Actually I’ll say it NJ, so I guess I disagree with both you and Feel. Despite the Greinke signing, the D-backs are not going to win the NL West, while the Dodgers are weaker without him. The Dodgers and the Giants remain the best teams in the West and the most likely to face the Nats in the playoffs. I’m plenty pleased that we will not have to face Greinke in the playoffs (much less the one-two punch of Kershaw and Greinke, or Bumgarner and Greinke). So it’s a net plus for the Nats that he’s not going to a playoff-bound team.

        The Nats will face him a maximum of twice in the regular season, whoever he plays for in the NL. Big deal.

  6. donniebenth - Dec 5, 2015 at 7:53 PM

    Never seen him pitch, so admittedly this comment is coming from a relative position of ignorance. But Lopez sure does seem like a candidate for conversion to the back end of the bullpen.

    Anyone heard any indication that the Nats are considering this?

    • mwgchess - Dec 5, 2015 at 8:14 PM

      Haven’t heard much about him before but he seems a little inconsistent for an 8th inning/closer role. I have learnt to be a little skeptical of these guys until they actually perform well in the bigs. I’ve seen a bunch of Nationals guys with rave reviews, but we still couldn’t put together a halfway decent bullpen. It sounds like he has the potential to be really good, however, he is probably a long way away from being a major league closer

  7. mwgchess - Dec 5, 2015 at 8:22 PM

    On the Greinke signing, I still think the D-backs are 2 big moves away from being a playoff bound team. They need a somewhat productive middle infielder and another 3-3.50 ERA starter. I think given all the money they have committed to Greinke this is not going to happen. Therefore, I think Greinke signing with the D-backs is a good thing for the Nats. As I recall the Nationals offense disappeared after being shut down by Kershaw and Greinke on back to back nights. Likely this was pretty discouraging and sent our dysfunctional club into yet another tailspin. Now that they are split up that won’t happen again.

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