JUNIOR LOPEZ, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: June 27, 1991
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2013, Pittsburgh Pirates
How Acquired: International Free Agent
Country: Dominican Republic
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|The Pirates signed Lopez in July 2013. He didn’t play in the DSL, but was in minor league camp in March. He was already 22 when they signed him. His fastball sits at 93-94 and he also throws a change.
As an older signee, the Pirates sent Lopez straight to Bristol, where he pitched mostly as a starter. Despite the high ERA, he didn’t allow many baserunners, mainly due to a low walk rate.
The Pirates moved Lopez up to full season ball at West Virginia, where he appeared in 18 games in relief. In late June, they promoted him to Bradenton and he got into another 19 games. Overall, he showed very good control but didn’t miss a great many bats. The ERA in low A is misleading, as hitters batted .296 against him. Oddly, at Bradenton he held opponents to a .190 average. He was still a little old for both levels, but less so at Bradenton; in low A he was two years older than the league average, in high A just one year. Lopez had a huge platoon split, holding right-handed hitters to an OPS of .522, while left-handed hitters managed an .809 figure.
Lopez returned to Bradenton and got off to a rough start. He was scored upon in his first five outings, giving up a dozen earned runs in just eight innings. He gradually pitched better after that and was very strong in July and August, holding opponents to monthly OPS figures of .641 and .459, respectively. The Pirates moved him up to Altoona at the end of the year and he got into one regular season game there. This time Lopez had a reverse platoon split, holding left-handed batters to a .614 OPS, while right-handed batters had a .738 OPS.
Lopez was suspended for the first 25 games due to an undisclosed violation of the drug testing and treatment program. He returned for three rehab games in the GCL, but he had a rough time in the third one and went out with an injury. He didn’t return.
Lopez’ development has been erratic at times and he hadn’t gotten a lot of innings even before his 2017 season went down the tubes. The Pirates, however, have liked him enough that he reached AA at the end of just his third pro season. Of course, he’s already 26, so he’s an extreme long shot to develop into a prospect even if he gets healthy. He’s eligible for the Rule 5 draft but won’t be selected.
|2018: Minor League Contract|
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2014
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2020
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2017
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|July 3, 2013: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent.