Top 12 Jays Draft Targets, JJ Edition: #12 RHP Jorge Lopez

This message will continue to be posted on each of the top 12 draft targets I will be listing daily until draft day: the players listed are not “the best” players in the draft, they are simply those that I believe could be around when the Jays draft, and that could wind up being selected by the Blue Birds when their turns come up. The list has 12 of the top targets and will be presented in reverse order (from least likely, to most likely). First up is a little bit of a wild card in….

#12: Jorge Lopez (18)

RH Pitcher / 6’5″ 180 lbs / Academia de Milagrosa, Cayey, P.R.

High School Team: Academia de Milagrosa

College: NA

Quick Facts:

  • The highest drafted Puerto-Rican ever is Luis Atilano, who was selected by the Braves, 35th overall in 2003. There are some who believe that Lopez could break that record.
  • Has been compared to Javier Vazquez in terms of pitching style.
  • Was placed on the Southeast All-Regions 2nd team by Diamondscape Scouting.
  • Played with the Caguas Military Academy.

Stats:

  • N/A

Interviews/Videos:

Pre-Draft Rankings (out of all pitchers in brackets):

  • BA Ranking May 25th: #39 (23)
  • John Sickels May 20th: #49 (27)

First and foremost, Lopez is a gifted athlete. Before concentrating on baseball full-time (2 years ago), he was a track-and-field athlete, a basketball player, and a volleyball player. His size and frame, 6’4″ 180 lbs, definitely have their advantages in all of those sports, so it’s no surprise that he did well overall. At the time, he was a positional player (a short-stop) while playing baseball, something that his part of the island is apparently known to produce a lot of.

What you need to know about Lopez is that he is still very new to pitching, having only done so full-time for 2 years. Despite his lack of experience, scouts have praised his breaking ball as perhaps the best ever to come out of Puerto Rico. It is believed that he shouldn’t have any issues adding a change up to his repertoire. His curve ball already impresses, and his fastball has jumped to 94 MPH this year. He works at lower speeds, in the high-80s to 92 MPH.

Even though he lacks experience, the motion Lopez uses is apparently very smooth and effortless, making good use of his lower body to create power. It’s probable that his mechanics will need some work as he works his way through the minors, but that should only make him stronger.

John Sickels had this to say about Lopez:

”Doesn’t get mentioned often enough, but Lopez has a very projectable upside arm that would fit perfectly with the Giants.”

I’m not sure how an arm fits more perfectly with one team than an other, but there are 3 things included in that statement that are reasons I believe the Jays will be interested in Lopez. First, he has projectability. More than anything, the Jays have been attracted to pitchers, such as Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard from the 2010 draft class, that have a lot of projectability remaining when using their sandwich round picks. Second, he has upside. Without that, I don’t believe the Jays would have interest. And finally, he doesn’t get mentioned enough and comes from Puerto Rico. I believe that the Jays have been aggressive in scouting P.R., which led to their taking a very aggressive shot in Richard “Dickie” Thon in 2010.

He very well could go sooner, and because of that the Jays may grab him earlier, with their 35th overall pick. But, I stil expect that there will be many others ranked above him, so it depends (as always) on how the draft develops. If selected, Lopez could be a part of the “next wave” of Jays pitchers that will allow for some insurance over the 2010 class.

Expected Selection (if selected by the Jays): In the Sandwich round, 46th overall.

For some reason, Jorge Lopez just sounds like the type of prospect the Jays would buy into. He has a very high ceiling, won’t cost an unreal amount of money to sign, and would be great compensation for the loss of C John Buck (the reason the Jays hold the 46th overall pick).

- MG

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