Since we don't get Blue Jays baseball today, it never rains in Southern Florida, but it pours. man, it pours; let's do another one of these. I'm running out of days before the season starts.
Otto Lopez is a 23-year-old infielder right-handed hitter from the Dominican Republic. I call him Otto Velez at least half the time, showing how old I am. The Jays have had him playing some outfield, too, feeling that he should be able to fill in at all spots if he is a utility player. He isn't a big guy, listed at 5'10" and 160 pounds.
The Blue Jays added him to the 40-man roster before last season. He got a callup in mid-August but only got one at-bat.
Offensively, he doesn't strike out a lot, makes good contact, and can take a walk. He doesn't have much power, just 5 home runs last year in 508 PA, but he has some speed. He stole 22 bases last year (and two in yesterday's spring game),
Otto hit .315/.379/.437 last year, split between Buffalo and New Hampshire, a pretty nice line.
Defensively? Well, back in 2020, Matt put it like this:
Most if his playing time came at shortstop last year, but having watched the majority of that, it was pretty rough. There was too many booted balls and bad throws, which shows up in the raw defensive stats, with 25 errors and .925 fielding percentage. He’s young, he’ll improve, but I don’t think he’s sticking there. For what it’s worth, BP’s minor league defensive metric had him as okay (though that’s for all positions).
/e also played some second base and a little outfield; in his short professional career he’s played almost everywhere. If he doesn’t have the hands for the infield, and he may be a fit in CF with good speed where he could profile as an everyday regular. In a corner, it would a tougher profile since Lopez has only shown a little bit of gap power and while he should grow into a little more, he doesn’t project for power and it’s not his game. It’s also possible the Jays could develop him as a utility player, a Swiss Army knife who moves all over the place.
So yeah, the center field fit might not be there, but it isn't going to happen with the Jays, at least not for the next couple of years. But the 'Swiss Army knife' part is his best hope. At least as long as he is with the Blue Jays.
I have a bias, I hate to 'let's give the utility job to some veteran' thing. But, I figure, past a certain age, the only way an older utility player can surprise you is in a negative way. Let's call it the Joe Panik rule.
Teams go to the Joe Paniks of the world for the utility role because a) they know not to complain about playing time, b) the idea young players need at-bats, and c) veteran presence. Digressing, I Googled the term veteran presence and got 158,000 hits.
I'd rather have the young guy who hasn't lost a step or two on the infield. Someone who could pinch-run or be the Manfred Man (how many people remember Manfred Mann?) and be valuable.
The chances of him making the team out of spring training. Almost 0. We'll have Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal platooning at second. So you have a Swiss Army knife on the bench every day (though I think Otto would be a good guy to have to spell George Springer in center on occasion, maybe even betting a defensive replacement for him.
PECOTA sees him playing 68 games, hitting .269/.322/.367. So I think they are heavy on the games played.
Last year we asked if Otto would get any playing time in the majors. 33% of us were correct. He did, but just the one at-bat. And we asked where he would get the most playing time. 11% said majors, 45% said AAA and 40% were right, saying AA.
If the over/under on Jays games played is 50 I’d take the
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Most of Otto’s playing time will be in
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