The early camp previews continue with one of our favorite offseason subjects - Nationals pitching prospect Reynaldo Lopez.
RHP Reynaldo Lopez
Weight: 185 lbs.
Born: San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
2014 clubs: Auburn, Hagerstown
The 6-foot, 21-year-old starter from the Dominican Republic made a key mechanical adjustment at short-season Single-A Auburn that changed the momentum of his whole campaign when he returned to low Single-A Hagerstown. He went 5-1 with a 0.63 ERA and 52 strikeouts in his last 10 starts, spanning the two clubs.
“He really firmed up and got his front side in a better place,” Auburn manager Gary Cathcart said. “I think he was more a side-to-side guy. He was pulling off a lot of balls. But he has got it going north and south now and the last 2 1/2 months of the season between Auburn and Hagerstown was about as good as you can do.”
Cathcart said Lopez adapted quickly to the adjustments that pitching coach Tim Redding and pitching coordinator Spin Williams implemented. Cathcart added that it made a big difference in his delivery in what the batter could see and not see in his motion to the plate.
“It was at the point in Auburn where he wasn’t getting challenged at all,” Cathcart said. “He was pitching from the stretch for maybe one or two hitters in his five innings at the most. It was definitely time for him to go back because he was in Hagerstown at the beginning of the year. Got hit a round a little bit, got sent to Auburn, made that mechanical adjustment with Tim and Spin, and its just lights out from there.”
What also was noticed by scouts was Lopez’s ability to maintain velocity in the mid-90s late into his outings. His teammate, top prospect Lucas Giolito, also noticed.
“That was the impressive part to do in the middle of September from a guy who hadn’t pitched much the year before,” Cathcart said. “Continuing those playoff games in Hagerstown, he was 95, 96 mph in the sixth inning - was pretty impressive.
“He has definitely put himself on the map. Fastball is definitely hitting 96 mph.
Cathcart said Lopez looks like he has hit the ground running upon his arrival in Viera, Fla. The first game of early camp is Thursday at the Astros.
“He has picked up right where he left off in spring watching him throw his bullpens,” Cathcart concluded.