Profile: Drafted by the Brewers in the second round in 2011 out of Caguas Military Academy in Puerto Rico, Lopez saw limited action following his signing, pitching in just four AZL games that same season.
He opened 2012 back in Maryvale, but after struggling in seven appearances, the Brewers opted to send Lopez down to the Dominican Summer League where he could get instruction in his native language. He finished out the 2012 season in the DSL, making five more appearances, starting three games.
Milwaukee got aggressive with Lopez in 2013, jumping him to Low-A Wisconsin, and he held his own with the Timber Rattlers, going 7-8 with a 5.23 earned run average in 25 games, 22 of which were starts.
He advanced to High-A Brevard County in 2014 and continued to show signs of improvement, going 10-10 with a 4.59 ERA in 25 starts and impressing the Brewers enough to earn a selection as their representative at the Futures Game in Minnesota during the MLB All-Star festivities.
Lopez got the bump to Double-A Biloxi to begin 2015 and excelled with the Shuckers as a key member of their pitching staff. In 24 starts he posted a record of 12-5 with a 2.26 ERA, striking out 137 batters in 143.1 innings of work en route to being selected as the Brewers Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Strengths: Lopez throws a low-to-mid 90’s fastball and his two-seamer has good sink to it. He has good movement on all of his pitches but his best may be a big curveball that leaves hitters completely baffled at times. A former volleyball player, Lopez is athletic and fields his position well. He’s also shown terrific mental toughness and the ability to focus on the mound while dealing with off the field health issues for his young son over the past few seasons.
Weaknesses: Lopez struggled to repeat his delivery early on in his career, resulting in command issues, but he exhibited much better control of his pitches in 2015. His changeup still needs some work, as he tends to overthrow it at times, but that too has been an area of improvement for the right-hander.
Future: The Brewers will give Lopez a start in San Diego, which would also put him in line to start the season finale at Miller Park against the Cubs. Lopez has added a couple ticks to his fastball and the strides he’s made over the past few seasons have been outstanding. If he continues along that path, he could become one of the Brewers top arms and a key member of their starting rotation down the road. He’s likely to open next season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, but he has the stuff to impress and could be a darkhorse to land a spot on the big league staff out of spring training in 2016.