Pirates Prospects Daily: Can Dariel Lopez Be An Exception To The Greensboro Effect?

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been very aggressive with some of their younger prospects, with several teenagers getting pushed to Bradenton over the past couple of seasons.

One player who has responded each year with an aggressive placement has been Dariel Lopez. Just 19 when he played for Bradenton, he became a key part of their lineup in the division championship run in 2021. 

Lopez played the entire 2022 season in Greensboro, thoroughly taking advantage of the hitter’s haven that is First National Bank Field.

A late season injury kept Lopez out of the lineup just long enough to finish one home run short of 20, nearly doubling his total from 2021 in Bradenton.

There is always a moment of hesitation when looking at a player’s offensive output when they play for Greensboro, especially when their home/road splits look the way they do for Lopez.

Lopez posted a .915 OPS (15 HR) at home, while just .692 (4 HR) on the road — a pretty stark contrast from each other that would usually leave some room for concern as he potentially heads to Altoona.

There is some hope that Lopez doesn’t become another that falls into the trap of giving false hope over his numbers in Greensboro. The obvious hope is he flashed a good amount of power in Bradenton, especially going the other way. He hit to the opposite field nearly 40% of the time while with the Marauders.

Lopez started pulling the ball a lot more in 2022 with Greensboro, making slight adjustments to his swing to really help get in front of things. We saw what the change did, as he improved across the board offensively.

I talked about Sean Sullivan’s HR/FB rate the other day and how it wasn’t maintainable, especially leaving such a hitter friendly park.

Lopez’s HR/FB was 27.5%, the 10th highest mark in all of minor league baseball among hitters that had at least 400 plate appearances last year. While that rate would be hard to replicate, the expectations of a drop off for a pitcher would be greater than a power-hitting position player.

He also had one of the better line drive rates in the minors, finishing 115th out of the 609 hitters with at least 400-plate appearances (puts him around the 80th percentile among hitters in line drives).

According to some of the data (over 1100 batted ball events recorded from over 10 players) I’ve recorded from Bradenton hitters (using Baseball Savant), hitters recorded a .733 average on line drives (batted balls with launch angle of 10-25 degrees). Even if the home run power decreases, Lopez is still putting himself in position to succeed at the plate.

Lopez will be an interesting player to watch this upcoming season. He’ll be 21-years-old when the season starts, which is still young for Double-A, so there will be some growing pains involved.

He’s been somewhat of a slow start in each of the last two seasons as he adjusts to a new level, but once he figures things out, he’s one of the more exciting young prospects in the Pirates system.

He has the raw power to blow past the ‘Greensboro helped me’ thoughts, and has continued to evolve as a hitter. Lopez was one of my picks to breakout last year, and with 19 homers, that wasn’t far off. There still seems to be more that he can tap into as he continues to grow and develop. 

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

**The Pirates continue to make big signings in Asia, and John Dreker broke down their increased focus on the continent.

**Wilbur Miller looked at the potential logjam of outfielders in Greensboro for the upcoming season.

**Anthony broke down Scott Randall, the control specialist who was acquired for Diego Castillo last month.

**Check out photos of the latest Pirates international signings.

**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at the continued evolution of Nick Gonzales.

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

In our latest article drop, John Dreker looks at the Pirates’ increased focus in Asia over the last several years.

The Pirates Continue to Make Big Signings in Asia

Wilbur Miller breaks down the potential outfield logjam in Greensboro for the upcoming season.

The Pirates Could Have an Outfield Logjam in Greensboro

Anthony Murphy broke down Scott Randall, a control specialist the Pirates acquired for Diego Castillo.

Scott Randall: The Pirates Traded For an Interesting Control Specialist

I’ll have a column on Wednesday at noon.

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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AdministrativeSky236

This kid really feels like he’s ready to take a big leap to me, maybe just a gut feeling

emjayinTN

Anthony: After commenting and recommending they play Lopez more at 2B/SS I went back to identify who the players were who were getting the PT at 2B last year at GBO. Jackson Glenn, 24, played 43 games at 2B, and Yoyner Fajardo, 23, played 33 games at 2B.

Lopez was a SS coming out of the DR and they were possibly playing him primarily at 3B last year to expand his ability to be viewed as a Utility IF, which is all the rage these days. However, Dariel Lopez and Maikol Escotto (Taillon trade), both still only 20 in 2022, should have been the featured MI at GBO – they are both very young, and very talented. Lopez should definitely be one half of the MI in Altoona in 2023. Escotto struggled at A+, and should probably be held at GBO to start the season.

How about Lopez and Francisco Acuna as the starting MI at AA, and keeping room for Escotto if he starts hot at A+?

emjayinTN

A lot to like about Dariel Lopez, one of the earlier “big” dollar ($400K) signings from the DR in 2018. Good size at 6’1″ 183, and will not even turn 21 until Feb. Played 25 games at SS with a .922 Fld%, 18 games at 2B with a .973 Fld%, but was played primarily at 3B with 55 Games, and only an .877 Fld %. With his bat, I would have him playing the middle infield primarily, and a minimal amount of games at 3B.

As you stated, exc power as a 19 year old at BRD, and again at GBO as a 20 year old. His BB/K was a VG 41/103 at BRD, but it dropped to a 21/107 even though his slash at GBO was 286/329/476/805 OPS.

He was the kid who missed time in his first year due to TJ rehab – wonder how strong his arm was at BRD and GBO? No. 19 Prospect by FG prior to 2022, after not even appearing on their Top 51 prior to 2021.

James_Robert5

Lopez is way heavier than 183

Last year he was 213

I think it’s a stretch to play him at SS with the restrictions on shifts

Similarly another young SS, Javier Rivas, is much larger than his size from 2019

He’s 6’6” 190 based on the most recent Pirates Press Guide

emjayinTN

213? I get my info from Baseball Reference and then always double check with the Rosters of the teams – in this case GBO last year – and both have Dariel Lopez still at 6’1″ 183. I checked with FanGraphs also and same same. For Rivas, BR still has him at 6’3″ 165.

We need something sort of like an annual Guide for the Pirates Prospects.

James_Robert5

More recent information is available here

https://pressbox.athletics.com/Publications/MLB%20Media%20Guides/

Iowasteel

They don’t seem to update heights and weights on any of the stat sites. For example, BRef lists Planchart at 6′ 0″ and 176 pounds. He is closer to 6′ 3″ and 240. He wouldn’t weigh 176 if you cut off one of his legs. It is probably the measurements from when they signed.
Lopez is well put together. I think he has a chance to develop into a good power hitter. The problem is I don’t think he is an infielder, so bar is pretty high.

steve_zielinski

Lopez reminds me of Jose Batista.

Zack

I’m drawing a blank. Other than Alvarez, who is likely to be MI in Altoona? Acuna?

emjayinTN

I’d start with Dariel Lopez and Francisco Acuna – the kid who does not know he is too short to play this game. .814 OPS in 200 AB, and a .972 Fld % in 60 games at SS – all 5’6″ of him. He should have been given a lot more than 2 games at 2B at GBO.

JimEastTennessee

They get to my old hometown of Altoona, and hope grows…

emjayinTN

Never lived in Altoona, but good memories of working construction at the power houses around Indiana, Johnstown, Altoona and State College years ago. Never forget eating at Erculiani’s in Gallitzin – is that still going?

JimEastTennessee

No, I understand it closed in 1990.
https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=926838880681992

JimEastTennessee

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