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Reynaldo Lopez forcing his way into White Sox’ rotation

Yoan Moncada is here, trying to show what he can do.

Who’s next on the who’s who of up-and-coming future White Sox stars? Probably right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, who has been dealing at Class AAA Charlotte.

“Getting close; he’s forcing the issue,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said Wednesday before the Sox played host to the Cubs in the third game of the Crosstown Showdown. “He’s had several starts in a row that have been very impressive.’’

Lopez, who came to the Sox with right-hander Lucas Giolito and Class A Winston-Salem right-hander Dane Dunning from the Nationals — the three of them are ranked sixth, seventh and 10th, respectively, among Sox prospects by Baseball America — in the Adam Eaton trade, looked closest to major-league-ready among Sox prospects during spring training and still looks that way.

Reynaldo Lopez delivers a pitch for the White Sox during a Cactus League game in spring training.

The 23-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, who had a 4.91 ERA in 44 innings for the Nats last season, had 10 strikeouts in five innings Wednesday night against Columbus, allowing two runs. He has a 1.96 ERA in his last six starts, with 49 strikeouts and eight walks in 36‰ innings. Although Hahn didn’t say, it’s not out of the question that he joins the Sox’ rotation as soon as his next fifth day, which would come Monday against the Blue Jays at Guaranteed Rate Field.

There seems to be no reason to wait any longer.

There’s plenty of room in the Sox’ rotation for auditions. The Sox went into Wednesday with a 5.71 ERA in the last 55 games, making only 12 quality starts (six innings or more, three earned runs or fewer) during that stretch. Miguel Gonzalez, who beat the Cubs on Monday at Wrigley Field, was the only Sox pitcher to make one in the last 15 games (he did so twice) and the only Sox pitcher to work seven innings or more in the last 31.

Mercy.

At the torrid clip Hahn is trading pieces away for prospects, Gonzalez might be the next to go. The trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m.

“Huge interest,’’ Hahn said with an exaggerated grin when asked if other teams are inquiring about his bunch of veteran back-end starters, which also includes Derek Holland, James Shields, who started Wednesday, and Mike Pelfrey. “They better call quick.’’

More seriously, Hahn said, “we have guys who — based on their [contract] control and based on their track record — conceivably could be moved to help a contender. We’ll see over the next four or five days that are left whether we’re able to line up.”

Hahn said the Sox remain open for business.

“Deadline’s Monday,’’ he said. “We’re still having conversations on a couple of different fronts.’’

Outfielder Melky Cabrera, who becomes a free agent after the season, was batting .339 with seven home runs and 25 RBI in his last 40 games.

But the rumor mill has been quiet on the Melky front. Experienced switch hitter with World Series experience, anyone?

“Obviously, I think we’ve probably made our major moves up to this point,’’ Hahn said. “But we’re still having some conversations, and something may well materialize here between now and Monday.”

Perhaps Lopez will be here by then.

“He had a very good spring and arguably could’ve forced his way onto the Opening Day roster,’’ Hahn said. “Once he got to Charlotte, he sort of took that understandable half-step back before he got into a routine of pitching every fifth day for the Knights. Over the last few months, though, he’s been commanding all his pitches, being very aggressive within the zone and showing that he’s getting close to needing to be here to show what he can do against big-league hitters.”

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

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