Up next at No. 43 on our pre-2012 top prospects list is yet another shortstop, a high schooler from Southern California that is a plus hitter with a great eye at the plate…No. 43: Christian M. Lopes
Shortstop / 19 years old / 6′0″ 185 lbs
Born: October 1, 1992 in Huntington Beach, California
Bats: Right Throws: Right
High School: Edison (Huntington Beach, CA)
Drafted By: The Toronto Blue Jays in the 7th round (229th overall) of the 2011 Amateur Draft
Signed For: $800,000 on June 15, 2011
Pre-2011 Rank: N/A
- Tries to model his game after Derek Jeter and David Wright
- Had committed to USC last November prior to signing with the Jays
- Member of the 2010 USA 18U National Baseball Team
- 2010 Aflac All-American
- 2011 Rawlings pre-season All-American
- Ranked behind Jays picks Daniel Norris and Tyler Beede on MaxPreps’ pre-draft top 100, but ahead of other Jays picks Matt Dean and Dwight Smith Jr.
High school stats (most provided by CBS Sports’ MaxPreps):
|Year||Age||Level||R||RBI||3B||HR||AVG||OBP||SLG||State Rank||Nat’l Rank|
Extra information and previous experience:
After being ranked No. 1 in the state of California as a 13-year-old in 2006, Christian Lopes kicked off his high school career with a bang almost two years later amidst high expectations.
Playing for Valencia High School, Lopes hit .408 with two triples, 10 home runs, and a 1.296 OPS in his freshman year. Then, as a sophomore during the 2008-09 season, he hit .453 with 33 RBIs and a staggering 1.713 OPS as Valencia’s lead-off hitter. Having bulked up by five pounds, too, Lopes hit more home runs as a sophomore than he did as a freshman, clubbing 15 round-trippers.
But given the relative uselessness of high school stats to scouts and other talent evaluators, Lopes didn’t just draw attention because of his numbers.
Commended for a mature and advanced hitting approach for his age, Lopes’ best tool was, and still is, his bat. Defensively, he displayed great range with soft hands and an adequate arm, and makeup-wise, he was touted for being a hard worker and highly motivated.
According to Jared Snyder, Lopes’ coach at Valencia, you can add a leadership ability to that list as well.
“One nice thing about Christian is his humility. He is just so humble. He comes out to the field every day ready to work. He is that quiet leader, who leads his teammates by his example,” he said in an interview with baseballcoaches.org.
In an interview with ESPN, Lopes added that the main reason he works so hard is because he takes his commitment to baseball very seriously.
“When I play, it looks like I’m so serious and I’m not having fun, but this is my life,” he said. “I live to play this game. Ever since I was born, ever since my dad showed me my first bat, I just loved it. I can’t explain it other than that.”
Having already drawn a lot of national attention before even turning 17 years old, Lopes transferred to Edison High School for his junior year. Under pressure there, he still managed to hit .380 but took a considerable step backward power-wise and hit just five doubles and two home runs all season. In his final year as a senior, he hit .329 with six doubles and seven home runs.
After being so highly regarded at a young age and even projected to be an eventual top-40 selection in the MLB Draft, Lopes didn’t develop any other plus tools and was passed on expert rankings by other high schoolers around the state. He is, however, a well-rounded infielder with a great makeup.
Though Lopes doesn’t possess multiple plus tools, he’s considered to be at least average in all five areas. Hitting remains his main selling point, with excellent bat speed and the ability to hit to all fields. Having recently turned only 18 years old, he has continued to display a great eye at the plate with a patient approach.
Though his power potential seems to have somewhat dipped, Lopes would like to develop into a consistent power threat. While it seems as though he’s more likely to become a gap hitter that will rack up doubles, he has never been afraid to make adjustments to his swing. He can, however, pay too much attention to his swing to the point of constantly changing it, but that’s an issue that will be corrected when he’s under the tutelage of minor league coaches and instructors during his pro career with the Jays.
Defensively, Lopes still has soft hands with a quick release and smooth motions, but even though he has put in a lot of work on his footing, he still has a ways to go overall. He is aggressive on the base paths and even though his speed has dropped a bit since bulking up to over 180 pounds, he’ll still manage to steal a few bases down the road.
There has been some discussion about Lopes moving away from shortstop to third base down the line. Even though there’s a good chance he not stick at short, the Jays view him as a middle infielder going forward and if he was to switch positions, it would be to second base.
Lopes frequently draws comparisons to Christian Colon, a fourth-overall pick by the Royals in the 2010 draft. Colon was ranked the 51st-best prospect prior to the 2011 season by Baseball America, and is considered to be a five-tool player even though he has yet to showcase anything notable at the plate in his minor league career thus far. At 18 years old, Lopes is almost four full years younger than Colon.
Expected 2012 Team: GCL Blue Jays (Rookie)
Lopes signed late with the Jays after being drafted and was unable to see any pro action in 2011. Instead, he reported to instructs at the Jays’ minor league complex in Dunedin, FL to work primarily on his defensive game with Toronto’s roving minor league infield instructor Mike Mordecai.
Given how heralded Lopes already is for his determination, work ethic, and serious approach to baseball, he could make significant improvements to his overall game in 2012 while working with professional coaches. He has already made significant strides defensively from where he was previously, and it will be nice to see his advanced bat play out against real competition next year when he finally logs some pro data.