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Nationals prospect spotlight: Reynaldo Lopez

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Nationals prospect spotlight: Reynaldo Lopez

Age on Opening Day 2016: 22

How acquired: Signed as international free agent in 2012

Position: Starting pitcher

Prospect Rank: No. 5 in Nats' org. (Baseball America)

2015 Level/Team: A-Potomac

2015 Stats: 19 G, 19 GS, 4.09 ERA, 99 IP, 93 H, 47 R, 45 ER, 5 HR, 28 BB, 94 SO, 3 HBP, 9 WP, 6-7, CG, 1.222 WHIP, 8.5 SO/9, 3.36 K/BB

2015 Analysis: Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez entered the 2015 season as the third-ranked prospect in the Nationals' organization by Baseball America after an impressive 2014 campaign that saw him post a 1.08 ERA in 16 starts split between the Auburn Doubledays and the Single-A Hagerstown Suns. That earned him a slight bump up to High-A Potomac for 2015, where he made 19 total starts from early May to late August.

Lopez did not find the same level of success with the P-Nats, posting a 4.09 ERA across 99 total innings. He was strong early in the season with only one earned run through three starts (17 IP), but quickly found trouble for an extended stretch. From May 22 to June 26 - a span of seven starts - Lopez allowed 25 earned runs on 42 hits and nine walks in 31 innings. That was good for a 7.26 ERA as opponents hit .326 against him in those outings.

But just as Lopez started the season well, he finished with impressive numbers over his last five starts. He held a 2.25 ERA with 30 strikeouts and six walks in 28 total innings. Opponents hit just .196/.250/.258 in those games. Lopez' season ended with a minor back injury that put him on the disabled list in August.

2016 Outlook: Lopez battled inconsistency in 2015, but seemed to find a groove down the stretch before getting hurt. Perhaps that success can be carried into the 2016 season, where he will likely start again at Potomac.

If he does go back to Potomac, it may not be for long if he pitches like he did late in 2015. Lopez turns 22 on Jan. 4 and the Nationals would like to see him start gaining some momentum and climb the ranks of their farm system. He has eye-popping stuff with a fastball that sits in the upper-90s and reaches triple digits, and he's proven for most of his brief professional career that his skills translate to games. But he will need to get back on track in 2016 to continue moving up the ladder.

A best-case scenario for Lopez could conceivably include an MLB debut in 2016. We have seen the Nationals pull pitchers from the Double-A ranks before and Lopez is likely to be there at some point in 2016.

As is the case for many young pitchers who throw hard, Lopez will need to improve his command in 2016. If he can harness his high-90s heat, he will continue to develop as one of the most promising pitching prospects in the Nats' organization.

[RELATED: Appreciating Jordan Zimmermann’s Nationals career]

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm