In the coming few days, MLB teams will make tough decisions by making tough cuts. As the rosters go down to the 26, the Toronto Blue Jays have a few players on the bubble between making the team or heading to Buffalo. One of these bubble players is Otto Lopez, a middle infielder from the Dominican Republic who has been with the Blue Jays since 2017. Back from the World Baseball Classic, there are plenty of reasons why Lopez should make the Blue Jays Opening Day.
The Case for Otto Lopez
Infield Depth Options
Looking at the Blue Jays infield, Lopez has opportunities to fit in. He’s a prospect who won’t go away and he’s a middle infielder, who played most of 2022 between second base and shortstop. Looking at the Blue Jays players in the infield, most are either set in their defensive position or used as utility players. It will be unlikely that Matt Chapman, Brandon Belt, or Vladimir Guerrero Jr will play second base or shortstop for Toronto in 2023. However, players such as Bo Bichette will be a lock in the roster as the American League leader in hits last season.
The remaining infielders would be Santiago Espinal, Cavan Biggio, and Whit Merrifield. Although, on the Blue Jays’ depth chart, they will continue to play utility roles. Both Biggio and Merrifield are ranked higher in the outfield depth chart, which allows Lopez to play as an infielder.
Looking at the other infielders on the 40-man roster, Lopez has to compete with Leo Jimenez, Spencer Horwitz, and Orelvis Martinez. Jimenez spent the 2022 season with the Vancouver Canadians. So a jump to the majors is unlikely for him in 2023. Spencer Horwitz is an infielder but Horwitz would be playing at first base, not second base. As for Orelvis Martinez, he struggled last season in Double-A New Hampshire, so his chance of making the Blue Jays in 2023 is a long shot. The only other player in the way of Otto Lopez would be switch-hitting infielder Cullen Large who in 119 games, hit .238/.327/.365 with Triple-A Buffalo. Unfortunately for Large, he is not currently on the 40-man roster.
Tenure with the Blue Jays Farm System
The Blue Jays prospect has been a part of the organization’s farm system since 2017. Ultimately he has shown progression since his time with the Gulf Coast League. Across each season, the 24-year-old has been consistently hitting .300 each year in the minors. Usually, each season for Lopez ends with a promotion. As someone who spent last year with the Buffalo Bisons, Lopez was three years younger than the average player. In 91 games with Buffalo, he batted .297 earning him a call-up last September. After spending the offseason with Escogido of the Dominican Winter League, he has been able to hone his game to be major league ready. The promising infielder has learned at each level at the Blue Jays farm system and hopefully will apply that to his game going forward.
An Outstanding Spring
Ultimately Otto Lopez makes the Opening Day roster has been his level of play in the last few weeks. In six games with the Blue Jays in Spring Training, Lopez is hitting .467/.529/.667 with seven hits and three RBI. However, most Blue Jays fans would best know him for his time with Team Canada during the World Baseball Classic. In four games Lopez hit .294/.333/.588 with six RBI. He had the game of his life thanks to a go-ahead three-run home run against Columbia. His performance on baseball’s biggest stage was enough to turn heads among Blue Jays fans that will give him this spot in 2023.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) March 14, 2023
If Lopez were not to make the team out of camp, there are possible reasons for this not being the case. The first is that he may not have played enough games with the Toronto Blue Jays for them to have the confidence to get called up. However, this could be due to his time playing in the World Baseball Classic which saw him miss half of Spring Training. The other could be for his professional development. This is still a 24-year-old and playing every day may be more important. In Buffalo, Lopez would be the everyday starter in the infield, while in Toronto he would be a bench player behind players like Merrifield, Bichette, and even Santiago Espinal. He would be playing a lot less in Toronto than with the Bisons.
Final Thoughts On Otto Lopez
As the Blue Jays aspire to contend this year, Lopez provides a depth option in October. Lopez can make the Blue Jays and have his rookie season in Toronto. As someone who earned the opportunity last year, he hopes to stay up for more games. The 2023 Toronto Blue Jays will be the ones to watch, and Lopez will provide incredible energy to the team. As someone who has been in the system long, he is ready to play in the majors.
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