Keith Law: D-backs’ Yoan Lopez shows flashes in Arizona Fall League

Oct 17, 2017, 1:59 PM
Arizona Diamondbacks' Yoan Lopez (32) throws during spring training baseball workouts Sunday, Feb. ...
Arizona Diamondbacks' Yoan Lopez (32) throws during spring training baseball workouts Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

For the D-backs and Yoan Lopez, things haven’t gone quite the way former general manager Dave Stewart had hoped.

The D-backs signed Lopez for $8 million in January 2015. At the time, Lopez was 21-years-old, meaning the signing had an effect on the D-backs’ international bonus pool because it put Arizona over its assigned amount for the 2015-16 international signing period. As a result, the Diamondbacks could not sign any players for the next two signing periods.

When he was signed, Ben Badler of Baseball America considered Lopez “one of the more intriguing young arms in Cuba.” But the right-hander struggled at the Double-A level in 2015 and 2016, posting an ERA over four in both seasons.

In addition to his struggles on the field, according to the Arizona Republic, Lopez left the Double-A Mobile Bay Bears twice between the 2015 and 2016 campaigns due to emotional issues.

In 2017, Lopez’s talent may have come to fruition. In 20 games with High-A Visalia, he went 2-0 with a sparkling 0.85 ERA.

Lopez’s bounce back season has translated into his initial appearances in this season’s Arizona Fall League. The right-hander has not allowed a run in three appearances (3.0 innings pitched) for the Salt River Rafters.

ESPN insider Keith Law saw Lopez pitch last week. While he saw improvement, Law still has doubts about a potential big league future.

This was a level down from where he’d pitched before, so the performance isn’t as impressive as it sounds, but his stuff is legitimately improved as well — he was throwing 94-97 mph heat in Arizona complemented with an 81-83 mph curveball that had some depth to it. He gave up more hard contact on the fastball than you’d like to see, so I’m not sold on him as more than a middle reliever, but this is better than he was in 2015-16.

The Diamondbacks struggled to get consistent middle relief in 2017. If Lopez can continue his resurgence in the Fall League, which is considered the last step for many prospects, he could be an option in the D-backs bullpen sooner rather than later.

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Keith Law: D-backs’ Yoan Lopez shows flashes in Arizona Fall League