There is a lot of hype surrounding Kansas City Royals prospect Nicky Lopez. As it turns out the fan base is not alone in its excitement.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline wrote about 20 prospects who he believes could make an impact during the 2019 season. Among the 10 from the AL side are the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez. Sitting among these big names is Kansas City Royals prospect Nicky Lopez.
It seems that the Royals starting infield is set for the moment, but Mayo says it is the versatility of Lopez that will get him on the field. He is a middle infielder by trade, however he can play at third and even the outfield in a pinch. These types of defensive Swiss army knives do tend to get solid playing time.
Everyone has to start somewhere, though Lopez’s ceiling is much higher than a super utility player. He has a nice arm that will help him be successful all over the diamond, the only question is with his power at the plate.
Seems like a perfect fit for the Kansas City Royals.
Can He Have An Impact?
The answer really depends on how everyone around the infield does. Whit Merrifield appears to be an immovable object following his extension, and Adalberto Mondesi seems to be a lock at short. The biggest question mark is Hunter Dozier and it is Dozier’s job to lose at the moment.
At one point, Dozier’s ceiling looked to be around where Mondesi’s is. It would be great to see him live up to that potential. However a slew of injuries in 2017 derailed his 2018 season leaving a lot of question marks for Dozier.
As far as an outfield spot goes, that seems to be out of the question. Center field and left field are locks with Billy Hamilton and Alex Gordon, respectively. Right field is up for grabs. But with the likes of Brett Phillips, Jorge Bonifacio, and Brian Goodwin vying for it, there is not a lot of room for more competition.
With all the pessimism in these sentences, I believe that Lopez has an honest shot at being a contributor. It may not be immediately, but he can certainly beat out Chris Owings as a super utility man. From there he can carve out day-to-day playing time while other rest. Or, hopefully nothing serious, when the injuries occur.
His defensive versatility is what is going to get him on the field. When that happens, Lopez will have to earn the rest himself. Lucky for him, he doesn’t need to hit homers to have a place on the Kansas City Royals.