CESAR LOPEZ
RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
Born: December 3, 1990
Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 210
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Signed: Int. FA, 2010
How Acquired: Int. FA
Birthplace: Cuba
Agent: N/A

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

Lopez was the Pirates’ first serious attempt to sign a real talent out of Cuba.  Obviously, I’m excluding Dave Littlefield’s publicity stunt with Yoslan Herrera.  Lopez has variously been described as a sinker/slider pitcher with a fastball that reaches the low 90s, or a pitcher who sits at 90-92 with a good change and slider.  When I saw him in Pirate City in March 2011, he wasn’t throwing that hard, although a year later his fastball was reaching 90-91.  He was probably coming back from a lengthy layoff in early 2011, as he signed in September 2010 but the deal wasn’t finalized due to visa issues until months later.

2011
R:  0-2-0, 5.85 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 20 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 6.3 K/9
A-:  0-0-0, 13.50 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 2 IP, 0.0 BB/9, 4.5 K/9

Lopez stayed in extended spring training until the middle of the GCL season, then joined the GCL rotation for seven starts.  His control was good, but opponents hit .308 against him and his K rate was low.  He moved up to State College for one relief appearance, which didn’t go very well.  His velocity in that appearance was 86-90, but he was getting pitches up.  He threw a curve that showed some promise.

2012
R:  3-2-0, 4.19 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 43.0 IP, 2.4 BB/9, 5.0 K/9

Lopez returned to the GCL and pitched much better.  His ERA is misleading, as he didn’t allow many baserunners and gave up only five HRs.  His K rate was low, though.  His fastball sat at 89-91.

2013
A-:  2-1-1, 2.81 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 16.0 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 8.4 K/9
A:  3-2-2, 3.86 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 23.1 IP, 1.2 BB/9, 11.6 K/9
A+:  0-0-0, 18.00 ERA, 3.33 WHIP, 3.0 IP, 9.0 BB/9, 6.0 K/9

Lopez’ stuff seemed to be better in 2013, as he was routinely hitting 93 mph.  The Pirates initially sent him to Bradenton in mid-May and he filled in for two outings, both of which went poorly.  Lopez resurfaced in the Jamestown bullpen when the NYPL season opened and he pitched well there.  After three weeks, the Pirates sent him to West Virginia, where he pitched in relief the rest of the year.  He continued to pitch well — better than his ERA — with a high K rate.  On the season he held opponents to a 228/295/342 line, with no platoon split at all.

Lopez is an example of how you can’t always take scouting reports too literally, especially with Cuban prospects.  It seems to have taken him two years to get his stuff back to something like the reports from Cuba and that’s likely due to the move to relief.  He’s still pitched only a little over 100 innings as a pro, so it may help if he pitches a full season for one or the other of the class A teams.

STATS
Baseball Reference — Minors
Fangraphs
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2014: Minor League Contract
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $600,000
MiLB Debut: 2011
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2017
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2015
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
September 11, 2010: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent.