Blue Jays Nation’s 2023 Preseason Top 50: #12 Otto López
Photo credit:© Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
8 months ago
Did you know that Otto López could represent Canada in the upcoming 2023 World Baseball Classic?
What’s more is that the 24-year-old outfielder/infielder is ready for big league plate appearances, which could come in 2023.
Let’s look at the criteria first though.
Instead of writing this out every time I did for the mid-season Top 60, I’ll copy and paste my criteria for how I rank and scout these players.
There are many factors that determine a top prospect. The eye test is the biggest driver in determining a top prospect, but proximity to the majors, ceiling, and floor is also important. Moreover, statistics are another key ingredient, as everything works together to give you numbers.
As for the grades, it’s important to remember that they are relative to the league in which they play. A kid from Dunedin is not going to have a 50-grade hit tool if he were placed in the big leagues. But relative to the league in which he plays, a .300 hitter is eligible to have that grade.
For these prospects, I’ll be reviewing their background, numbers in the minors, pitch mix (if they’re a pitcher), and giving a scouting report (if feasible, rookie league guys are difficult).
Let’s jump in!
Otto López‘s career so far:
Otto López was signed in the 2016 international free agency period, meaning that the 24-year-old second baseman/centre fielder has played six seasons in the organization.
He started his professional career with the rookie ball Blue Jays, posting a .275/.361/.360 slash line with a homer and a 9.4 BB% and an 11.3 K%.
In 2018, he spent the majority of his season with the Short-A Vancouver Canadians, where he slashed .297/.390/.434 with three homers in 206 plate appearances. There he had a great 12.6 BB%, while only striking out 10.2% of the time.
He spent the 2019 season with the Lansing Lugnuts, which was then the Blue Jays Low-A team. He slashed .324/.371/.425 with a career-high five homers in 492 plate appearances. His BB% dropped to 6.9%, while he had a 12.8 K%.
In 2021, he spent time with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats and Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, where he slashed .315/.379/.437 with five homers in 507 plate appearances. This saw him post an 8.1 BB% and a 17.2 K%. López also got his first MLB plate appearance, where he struck out.
López spent the 2022 season with the Buffalo Bisons, slashing .297/.378/.415 with three homers in 391 plate appearances. His BB% jumped to 10.5%, while his K% dropped to 15.6% in that time with Buffalo. He finished with a 114 wRC+, which in large part was due to a 20-game hit streak.
The then 23-year-old also got some time with the Blue Jays, where he slashed .667/700/.667 with no homers (but three RBIs) in 10 plate appearances. Obviously, this isn’t sustainable over a full season, but the 24-year-old is ready for some big-league plate appearances.
López has a short, muscular build with thick legs, a slim upper half, and broad shoulders. López is an excellent hitter who can hit the ball around the zone and uses all fields. He doesn’t strike out a lot, and he has a solid eye at the plate. However, López lacks significant power, and he doesn’t have much projection remaining in his frame. Despite that, López is a quick runner and uses his speed on the base paths. He has a fringe-average arm and has the range to play both centre field and second base.
Where he’ll start in 2023:
It’s likely that Otto López will start his 2023 season with the Buffalo Bisons, but here’s an interesting statistic. In 125 plate appearances against left-handed pitching in Buffalo, the 24-year-old slashed .381/.452/.543 with two homers, and a 12.8 BB% and 13.6 K%.
If the Jays can’t sign a player like Robbie Grossman to fit their right-handed outfielder that mashes left-handed pitching, perhaps López could be that guy?
Obviously, you hope that he can add a little more power in his career, but López has the potential to be an above .300 hitter, with plenty of stolen bases. His utility also makes him quite useful, especially for the Blue Jays.
Up next is another pitcher, who I think will make a ton of waves in 2023. So stay tuned!
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