Otto Lopez is a 22-year-old infielder, right-handed hitter from the Dominican Republic, who I will call Otto Velez at least half the time. Well, I say infielder, but he’s played a fair bit of outfield too. He was added to our 40-man roster last November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
He was number #22 on our prospect list last year, jumping up from 38th the year before. The jump in placing came because of his .324/.371/.425 batting line in Lansing in 2019. Matt wrote:
He excels at putting the ball in play, with just a 13% strikeout rate (in line with 11% the last two seasons). But he’s got an idea of the strike zone and will take a walk (7%), it’s not just swinging early. Though his batted balls skew towards ground balls and beating them out with his speed accounts for some of the high average, he shows a feel for feel for squaring up the ball and spraying to all fields. In short, if you want a profile that goes against the predominant trend in MLB of selling out for power with swings and misses, Lopez is your guy. There’s some parallels to Santiago Espinal above.
The question, ‘where would he end up on defense?’ At shortstop, he seems to be an error machine. In 2019 he made 25 errors in 82 games at short (and we saw an example of that in a spring game earlier his month.
I’d imagine the team wants to make him into a super-utility player (though that seems to be their plan with almost everyone). They have better prospects and better young players at any position he might play.
He’s in camp but has no real chance to break camp with the team (or no chance that doesn’t involve a half dozen players coming down with Covid or some other large-scale disasters befalling the team).
But then, it isn’t hard to imagine that he’d see some time with the major league team this year. He wouldn’t be a terrible choice for a taxi squad since he can play many positions. And any injury that would open a full-time spot for a bench player would open a bench spot for him.
At the moment, I’m pretty sure that Joe Panik will get the bench spot (and if he does if I was running things, I’d DFA Breyvic Valera to make roster room for Panik), which would leave Lopez and Santiago Espinal as the ones on the 40-man who could cover a utility infielder role. So, if there was a need, Lopez would be one of two who could fill the spot, though I’d imagine he would be behind Espinal in the pecking order.
PECOTA predicts a .245/.348/.301 batting line, if he were to play in the majors.
Will we see Lopez play with the Blue Jays this season?
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Lopez will get most of his playing time in
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