No.3 Starter: Reynaldo Lopez
CURRENT LEVEL: MLB
2017 SEASON: 3-3, 4.54 ERA, 41.2 IP, 23 SO (MLB)
MLB ETA: 2017
The first of the “Fearsome Five” (my nickname given to this future rotation) to reach the majors with the Sox, Lopez, has arguably the most experience at the MLB level. In just over 40 innings this season with the Sox, Lopez has struck out just 23 batters, a shattering drop from his 9.7 K/9 rate at Triple-A Charlotte. That should not be too much of a concern moving forward for the 23-year-old right hander. In June of 2012, as a fiery eyed 17-year-old phenom, Lopez signed out of the Dominican Republic as an international free agent.
After making his pro debut in 2013, Lopez breezed through the lower ranked minor league stage and found himself starting his 2016 season in Double-A. In his 14 starts with Double-A Harrisburg he posted a 3.14 ERA and saw himself promoted to Triple-A Syracuse and pitching in the MLB Future’s Game halfway through his 2016 campaign. On July 19, 2016, Lopez made his debut for the Nationals and tossed 4.1 innings and gave way to six earned runs, but he did strike out nine batters. Lopez would finish the 2016 season with a 5-3 record and a 4.91 ERA.
During the offseason Lopez, along with already mentioned starter Dunning, and Lucas Giolito were traded to the White Sox. Lopez became an instant cog in the great rebuilding machine. While Lopez has made just seven starts with the Sox this season, he has given fans a glimpse of what’s to come. His blazing 96-99 MPH fastball to go along with a wicked 77-82 MPH curve and a developing change-up makes him a starter with serious ace potential. As his first season with the Sox has ended, Lopez should be slotted in the No.3 spot in the rotation for the 2018 White Sox behind Giolito and Carlos Rodon.
Although he does have ace like potential and has always been projected that way, it will have to be seen whether Lopez can consistently harness his dominance. His short-arm delivery could be the cause for potential command issues, but it is most likely a problem that will figure itself out in time. It is almost unfathomable to think with Lopez’s potential that I have him projected only as my number three, but I guess that goes to show how talented this 2020 rotation will be.