Prospect Retro: Felipe Lopez
Per reader request, a prospect retro for Felipe Lopez.
All-Star infielder Felipe Lopez
Felipe Lopez was the 8th overall pick in the 1998 draft, as a first-round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays. He hit .373/.399/.518 in 19 games for St. Catherines in the New York-Penn League after signing, obviously impressive performance. I didn't give letter grades to first-round picks back then. I noted his strong defensive reputation, as well as pre-draft questions about his bat, although his NY-P outburst quelled some of those doubts despite the small sample size.
Lopez moved up to the Sally League in '99, hitting .277/.355/.421 with 21 steals and 14 homers. I gave him a Grade B, noting that he had excellent all-around potential, but that he struck out too much (157 times in 134 games) and that a few bumps could get in his way.
Promoted aggressively to Double-A in '00, he hit .257/.310/.371 in 127 games for Tennessee. His defense was erratic, and he got in trouble a few times for not hustling. But he was just 20 years old, and holding his own in Double-A. I gave him a Grade B-, dropping his grade one notch. I was afraid he was being rushed much too quickly.
Lopez spent 2001 and 2002 bouncing between Triple-A and the Majors, flashing potential but for the most part being overmatched. The Blue Jays eventually shipped him to Cincinnati, where he had two more split seasons, before breaking out in 2005. Retrospectively, it was clear that the Blue Jays both rushed him too quickly, and gave up on him too quickly, not giving him enough time to develop the baseball skills to go with his physical tools.
Comparable Players to Felipe Lopez
That's based on his numbers through 2004. I could see him being a cross between Fuentes, Phillips, and Gagne in the long run. Will he maintain the kind of performance he has shown this year? Maybe; I don't know. Neither do you.