It has been a long road so far for the Milwaukee Brewers 24th ranked prospect, Jorge Lopez.
Recent news arose about Lopez starting in 2018 despite ending last season in the bullpen. He started two games for the Milwaukee Brewers back in 2015, then appeared in a relief appearance in 2017. But most of his seasons for the last three years have been spent with Double A Biloxi.
Lopez broke out in 2015 after being a second round selection in 2011. In the bullpen role last season, his fastball was able to reach 97 MPH. That, however, had no movement. So his 4-seamer turned into a 2-seam project.
The bullpen is where he found a lot of success. In 2017, his control was better and he repeated his delivery. It was his first serious stint in the bullpen. Prior to last year he only relieved 10 games in his career.
No More Bullpen
In the link above, I dive deeper into his transition back to a starter. It is one he earned this winter. Through 13 games, his ERA sat below three with a league leading mark in strikeouts. That kind of performance is what led to another shot starting games.
That being said, he tends to do well in these leagues regardless. A year ago, the same kind of thing happened. Without taking away from great performances in the Dominican Winter League, because he pitched very well in both years, it is just something worth noting.
How Does He Project?
To me, he projects back to the bullpen. He will be able to maximize his velocity and couple it with his curveball to be successful. His ERA was better, and frankly he will have the best shot with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Right now, there is a lot of talk about the potential starting rotation, and Lopez is not in the conversation. With other prospects projecting as higher level starters, it creates a tough spot for the Puerto Rican born righty.
He is a talented pitcher, and he has flirted with the MLB level. But in order to maximize his potential, he will need to thrive in that bullpen role. By the end of 2018 it would not be surprising to see him there once again.