2. Nicky Lopez
It’s difficult to tell what the Royals have exactly in Nicky Lopez. The 24-year old was a 5th round draft pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. In 2018, Lopez split time between both Double-A and Triple-A but showed the ability to get on base with an approximate 10.5 percent walk rate while slashing 0.308/0.382/0.417.
However, his first season in the big leagues has not been kind to him as he’s been taking walks at just a 4.1 percent and is slashing 0.226/0.260/0.299 with 2 home runs and 25 RBI’s. Lopez is likely never going to be a power hitter, which is fine, but he’s not exactly lighting up the exit velocity radar either.
At just an average 83.6 mph, Lopez is in the bottom 3 percent of the league in exit velocity and is squaring up the barrel to the ball in 1.3 percent of his plate appearances. He is reportedly going to pursue the Whit Merrifield diet and exercise plan to bulk up this offseason, and that worked wonders for Whit.
If you recall, Whit saw his power dramatically increase with just 2 home runs in 81 games during his rookie season in 2016. The following year, he hit 19 home runs and swiped 34 bags as well. Lopez is hoping for similar results otherwise the Royals will be looking to fill his spot on the roster. We’ll see what happens with Merrifield this offseason but, right now, it appears he’ll be back in 2020.
Reason for optimism
Lopez saw an increase in playing time while Adalberto Mondesi was out with a dislocated shoulder and batted 0.262 with 5 doubles, 1 home run and 10 RBI’s in the month of August.
Reason for pessimism
He played in the same number of games in July as he did in August but managed to bat just 0.186. We’ll wait to see the new and improved Nicky Lopez in 2020.