Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez arrived at Guaranteed Rate Field on Thursday, a day in advance of making his first start for the White Sox against the Royals Friday night.
Lopez has been the Sox’ top pitcher at Class AAA Charlotte, and he is projected as an important part of their future starting rotation. Pitching coach Don Cooper hasn’t seen him since spring training and hasn’t watched much video on him since, his focus being on the pitchers on the major league staff.
“Looking back on spring training you could tell right away he had good stuff, he had three pitches, the fastball curveball and changeup,” Cooper said Thursday.
MLB.com ranks Lopez as the No. 7 prospect in the Sox system and No. 59 in baseball. He was 6-7 with a 3.79 ERA and 131 strikeouts (third in the International League) in 22 starts covering 121 innings at Charlotte. The Sox acquired the 23-year-old with right-handers Lucas Giolito and Dane Dunning in the December trade for Adam Eaton.
Lopez went 5-3 with a 4.91 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 44 innings for the Nationals in 2016.“He’s got the physical stuff,” Cooper said. “Now we’re going to try to maximize the command of that stuff, his three pitches he possesses.”
“And now his time has come. And I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Lopez, who won’t be added to the 25-man roster until Friday, dressed and was on the field before Thursday’s scheduled game against the Astros, wasn’t available to media Thursday. While Yoan Moncada has given fans a glimpse of the rebuilding Sox’ future on the field since he was called up July 19, Lopez’ arrival marks the first look at a top pitching prospect.
Cooper oozed excitement about the future.
“With all the guys we’ve traded starting with Chris Sale and all the people we’ve acquired, and there are more coming up — with the [June] draft — I’m excited about the names and the talent that I hear that we’re accruing,” Cooper said. “Somewhere down the road we’re going to be back.”
Davidson targets Tuesday return
Third baseman and designated hitter Matt Davidson said his bruised right wrist took a turn for the better Wednesday, is hoping to swing a bat Friday and he is targeting a return from the DL Tuesday when the Sox open a six-game road trip against the Dodgers.
“Structurally everything’s good,” said Davidson, who was hit by a pitch from the Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman Aug. 1.
Davidson was penciled in the lineup Sunday in Boston but scratched.
“It was just too painful to continue on,” he said. ” I needed a couple more days.”
Royals at White Sox
Friday: Danny Duffy (7-7, 3.48) vs. Reynaldo Lopez (2017 debut), 7:10, Ch. 9, 890-AM
Saturday: Ian Kennedy (4-8, 4.83) vs. James Shields (2-4, 6.03), 6:10, CSN, 890-AM
Sunday: Jason Vargas (13-6, 3.40) vs. Derek Holland (6-11, 5.25), 1:10, CSN, 890-AM