Reynaldo Lopez has only strengthened his case over the last month that he deserves to be in the majors.
Seemingly ready for a promotion, the Triple-A Charlotte starting pitcher was named the organization’s minor league pitcher for July on Wednesday. Single-A Winston-Salem outfielder Eloy Jimenez and Charlotte infielder Jake Peter split honors as the franchise’s minor league player of the month.
Acquired in the deal that sent Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals, Lopez posted a 2.10 ERA and struck out 38 batters in 30 innings last month. MLB.com’s No. 59 prospect, Lopez currently is among the International League leaders in strikeouts (third with 122), strikeouts per nine (third, 9.5), opponents average (third, .220) and innings pitched (fifth, 116).
“He’s forcing the issue,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters on Sunday. “He’s had several starts in a row that have been very impressive. Lucas Giolito, as well, has been impressive in his recent starts, and at some point here they’re likely going to force our hand to get them here to Chicago and give them the opportunity to show what they can do at the big league level.”
Peter hasn’t slowed down since he adjusted levels, moving up to Charlotte from Double-A Birmingham in July. Peter not only had an 18-game hitting streak, he hit .364/.424/.542 with four home runs, 13 RBIs and 21 runs between the two.
Jimenez has used his new opportunity with the White Sox to show how explosive of an offensive force he can be. The No. 5 prospect in baseball, Jimenez produced a .356/.415/.678 slash line with seven doubles, four homers and 14 RBIs in 17 games after he was acquired in the deal that sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs.
“We view him as similar to Moncada, where Yoan was in his development the year before we acquired him — with the potential to grow into a potent offensive force,” Hahn said last month. “Again, one of the more exciting prospects in baseball with a diverse skillset that can impact the game multiple ways.”
Lopez’s potential has had plenty of fans wondering when he’ll have the chance to make an impact in the majors.
The White Sox starting rotation could use the help. The team’s starters are 22-49 with a 5.13 ERA this season and have only pitched five or more innings in 52 of 104 games. Lopez, who has 42 major league innings to his credit, was the most polished pitcher acquired last winter. The White Sox suggested he was close to major-league ready during the spring and Lopez has begun proving it the past few months.
“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,” Hahn said.