Milwaukee Brewers prospect Jorge Lopez has quietly excelled in winter league.
I don’t really know what to make of Milwaukee Brewers prospect Jorge Lopez. During his brief ten inning stint in the majors in 2015, I was enamored with his curve ball. It brought me back to the Ben Sheets days of yore, a beautiful 12-6 bender (in the parlance of Bob Uecker). His struggles in 2016 were well reported, I covered them briefly here. However there are some positive reports coming out of the Dominican winter league. Lopez has pitched pretty well in winter league. He has pitched in 9 games, covering 34.2 innings. During this time he has put up a 1.56 ERA, striking out 32 batters, and walking 13. Opponents hit only .145 against him and he did not give up a single long ball. Granted, this is winter league, but at this point I will take any positive developments. It’s much better to shine, than get shelled, no matter what level you are pitching at. Two things strike me about his performance, most notably the strike out numbers. Nearly striking out nine batters per nine innings is a very positive sign. An 8.42 K per nine is close to his 2015 rate at AA Biloxi, 8.60. His walk rate in winter league was 3.42 per nine. Again, close to his 2015 AA number of 3.27.
So what does this mean?
This can only be looked at as positive. As I stated last week, Lopez is a player to watch this year. He is definitely a bounce back candidate. My preference would be to keep Lopez away from Colorado. Start him at AA and see of he can continue the positive momentum. If Lopez can regain his form in AA, he may be a candidate to skip AAA and fill in for injured starters during the season. He may even see some spot duty in the bullpen this year, and that could be preferable to him going back to the Sky Sox. I would hate to give up on him as a starting pitcher. But it may be better than shaking his confidence again at AAA. 2017 could be a make or break year for Jorge Lopez, let’s hope his can build on his positive performance in winter league, and satiate my burning desire to again see a exquisite curve ball at Miller Park.
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