Selected by the Kansas City Royals in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Creighton University, middle infield prospect Nicky Lopez reached Double-A Northwest Arkansas in the Texas League in 2017 after a midseason promotion there from High-A Wilmington in the Carolina League. In 129 summer games between the two levels, the 22-year-old (DOB: March 13, 1995) got 517 at-bats and slashed .279/.348/.356/.704 with 18 doubles, eight triples, two home runs, 21 stolen bases, 52 walks, and 52 strikeouts. After the season, the Royals sent Lopez to the Arizona Fall League, where the 5’11”, 175 lb. infielder played for the Surprise Saguaros. He crushed good pitching in the AFL, finishing with a .383/.433/.568/1.001 line and five doubles, two triples, two home runs, seven walks, and 14 strikeouts in 90 plate appearances.

An exceptional defensive middle infielder who possesses a knack for contact and a very mature approach at the plate, Nicky Lopez seems primed to push past size questions and over-achieve his way into a role as a big league regular in another few years. It remains to be seen whether he can stick at shortstop or ultimately move over to second base, but his glove is for real and he’ll be an interesting follow in 2018. Below, you’ll find Baseball Census‘ full Nicky Lopez scouting report based on our viewings of the Kansas City Royals prospect at the AFL the last two months.




Nicky Lopez Scouting Report, Kansas City Royals — 2017

Dates observed in 2017: Arizona Fall League

TOOL (FV)
NOTES & COMMENTS
Hit (60)
Exceptional feel for the barrel and use of all fields from the left side of the plate. Will get inside-out in approach and pepper opposite field with line drives and ground balls; weaker wrists with lots of weak contact at times, but speed to exploit that. Enough pitch recognition and bat speed to work the inner half when pitched there, too. Above-average hand-eye coordination with short stroke and punchy, line drive feel; patient, with mature approach and ability to draw walks. Very little by way of consistent lift for power, but unnecessary with his build and role as a table-setter. Remarkably similar to Padres prospect Luis Urias in development of hit tool; for me, not quite as preternatural feel for the barrel as Urias and falls a full grade short, but Lopez is above-average with a chance to impress nonetheless.

Power (30)
Very little power to speak of; will never have much over-the-fence pop as an undersized, lean middle infielder with contact skills. Speed and line drive stroke will help with gap-to-gap power, but not a huge focus considering primary role as a potential top-of-the-lineup guy to get things started.

Glove (55)
One of the best glove-men in the middle infield at AFL this year; soft hands with a great feel for playing up the middle. I question his physical stature and ability to withstand the grind at shortstop as an undersized guy, but physical tools are there with advanced situational feel. Good footwork helps him out, especially to his backhand; fundamentally sound and squeezes every last drop of ability that he can out of his glove. Wherever he plays, he’ll be above-average to plus as a defender, though may fit best as an everyday second baseman.

Arm (50)
Surprisingly good arm strength for his stature, though ultimately average at best; boosted by good accuracy and consistent mechanics that produce very little run/fade to first base, even from backhand. Exceptional defensive footwork helps him stay under his arm and on line; very fundamentally sound here as with his hands. Probably enough arm strength to play shortstop everyday, but certainly less than ideal in my looks; will struggle particularly on backhand deep in the hole. As with every other tool, though, tendency to over-achieve with strong fundamental base, so he may ultimately surprise.

Speed (60)
Consistent low 4.1’s (4.10 – 4.15) out of LHH box at AFL. Proven stolen base ability with some development ahead as he learns to better read pitchers and pick his spots; aggressive on the bases bleeding into over-aggressiveness at times. Footwork and good overall athleticism boost his lateral quickness on defense, particularly on first-step reads to balls off the bat. Good runner; should remain that way for the length of his career. Speed and glove will prove to be carrying tools.

Intangibles
Typical Creighton product: very fundamental, does things the right way, plays the game hard with little flash but consistent intensity and proven ability to execute. Hard-nosed guy who plays significantly bigger than his stature. Good field presence. Competitive; apologies for overused stereotype here, but true grinder/gamer ballplayer who will prove popular with fans. Situational guy who does the little things to help a team win, both at the plate and in the field.

2018 Plan
After exceptional High-A stint to start 2017, offensive production fell off a bit in Double-A, so he’s likely headed back there to prove he can adjust to Texas League pitching. Double-A is a big jump, and Lopez is moving quickly, so he’s still on time (he’ll turn 23 right before 2018 begins). Assuming he adjusts like you’d expect, there’s no reason he wouldn’t spend the second half of 2018 with Triple-A Omaha in the Pacific Coast League.

PROJECTION (55/45 FV)
Three legitimate tools (hit, glove, run) give Nicky Lopez considerable margin of error to deflect questions about his stature and durability. A strong AFL showing against premium velocity further reinforced his status as a legitimate prospect and hard-nosed ballplayer. For me, I think he ultimately slides into a full-time second base role in the big leagues, and profiles there as a top-of-the-lineup table setter with a knack for getting on base. Assuming continued development like the last 18 months, there’s an outside shot he reaches the Kansas City Royals at the end of 2018. Looking further ahead, Nicky Lopez has a chance to be an above-average everyday contributor in his Major League career (55 FV) with a natural fall-back into a productive utility role at floor (45 FV). MLB ETA: late 2018.




Nicky Lopez Scouting Report, Kansas City Royals — 2017 Game Video

In addition to this Nicky Lopez scouting report, we have game video for you to watch as a supplement to our notes and observations. You can find more Kansas City Royals prospect videos and thousands of other prospects when you click here and subscribe to our YouTube channel.





Did you like this Nicky Lopez scouting report? Get more prospects here:

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Ventura College SS Rudy Aguilar — CLICK HERE

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3 Comments

  1. […] (OF, Marlins)Scott Squier (LHP, Marlins) Kyle Farjad (LHP, Marlins)Brian Anderson (INF, Marlins) Nicky Lopez (INF, Royals)Daniel Johnson (OF, Nationals) Kevin Padlo (3B, Rays)Connor Walsh (RHP, White Sox) […]

  2. […] Nicky Lopez, 2B | Elier Hernandez, OF | Zach Lovvorn, RHP | Amalani Fukofuka, OF | Robby Rinn, 1B […]

  3. […] Flores, INF | Pedro Fernandez, RHP | Nicky Lopez, INF | Elier Hernandez, OF | Zach Lovvorn, […]

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