The Chicago White Sox are continuing to turn their eyes towards the future, as the team has officially called up right-handed pitching prospect Reynaldo Lopez.
Lopez will join the White Sox rotation in-place of veteran right hander Mike Pelfrey, who will be moving to the bullpen and will be available to pitch out of the bullpen tonight while Lopez makes his White Sox debut starting against the Kansas City Royals.
To make way for Lopez on the team’s 25-man active roster, outfielder David Holmberg was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Per MLB Pipeline, Lopez is Chicago’s 6th best prospect in one of baseball’s best farm systems, behind Blake Rutherford, Luis Robert, Michael Kopech, Eloy Jimenez, and Yoan Moncada.
Chicago acquired Lopez via trade this off-season from the Washington Nationals. The White Sox sent Adam Eaton to the nation’s capital in this trade, while Lucas Giolito and Dane Dunning joined Lopez in the White Sox’s full return for Eaton.
At Triple-A Charlotte, Lopez made a total of 22 starts. He went 6-7 in those starts with a 3.79 earned run average and 131 strikeouts over 121 innings. At the Major League level last year with the Nationals, Lopez went 5-3 with a 4.91 earned run average and 42 strikeouts over 44 innings. The 23-year-old Lopez has three main pitches, a four-seam fastball, a changeup, and a curveball.
Something to keep your eye on with Lopez is his ground ball rate and fly ball rate. This year at Triple-A, Lopez was able to get 36.3% of the batted balls against him on the ground, while 42.8% of the batted balls against him went into the air for a fly ball. At the Major League level in 2016, his ground ball rate was 41.4%, and his fly ball rate was 35.3%.
Lopez’s average fastball velocity at the Major League level topped out at 95.8 miles per hour, while his changeup averaged 86 miles per hour, and the curveball averaging 78 miles per hour. If these percentages and stats show anything, it’s that we can expect a lot of strikeouts and ground balls from Lopez with the White Sox going forward.
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*All statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.*