Twelve days ago, the Marlins signed several free agents on minor league deals with Spring Training invitations.
Once such player is recent Marlins addition Christian Lopes, late of the Texas Rangers organization. A six-foot, 185 lb. right-handed second baseman, he was initially a shortstop when taken in the seventh round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Entry Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Lopes was a two-time high school All American, and has played on the USA’s 16-U and 18-U National Teams.
Lopes spent six seasons slowly climbing the ranks of the lone-remaining Canadian MLB team’s minor league system. He made his Triple-A level debut in 2017, with their International League (IL) affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons. In 92 contests that year, Lopes hit .261/.349/.402 with six home runs and 40 RBI. He also stole 18 bases in 22 attempts.
Released to free agency following that season, Lopes signed on with the Rangers and reported to their Triple-A club, the Round Rock Express in the Pacific Coast League (PCL). 123 games would see him produce essentially the same slashline, at .261/.365/.408 with a dozen home runs, 52 RBI, and 16 stolen bases in 25 attempts.
Lopes’ stock-in-trade is his ability to take a walk, which contributes both to his relatively high OBP and his presence on the PCL’s season ending K/BB ratio of 1.09, ranking 10th in the League. He was fourth in the IL for the Bisons the season prior, with a mark of 1.21. His more recent campaigns have resulted in OBP’s in the neighborhood of 100 points above his conventional batting average.
In 2019, the Huntington Beach, CA native split his season between the Rangers Double-A Frisco RoughRiders in the Texas League and the Nashville Sounds in the PCL. In 121 games between the two levels, Lopes hit .265/.366/.422 with 13 home runs and 65 RBI, with 14 stolen bases versus six CS.
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On December 18th, the Marlins invited catchers Santiago Chavez and B.J. Lopez to Spring Training. They also extended invitations to ST along with minor league contracts to pitchers Aaron Northcraft and Josh A. Smith, catchers Ryan Lavarnway and Brian Navarreto, infielder Gosuke Katoh, outfielder Matt Kemp, and Lopes. These sorts of players don’t generally make it to the majors, with few exceptions, such as Jon Berti in 2019 and Yadiel Rivera in 2018.
At 27-years-of-age, Lopes represents organizational depth for the Marlins. He’ll probably start the year at the Triple-A level with the Wichita Wind Surge in the PCL unless he sets the world on fire in Spring.
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