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Nicky Lopez among four Royals prospects assigned to Arizona Fall League

These players could be a step away from the big leagues.

Brad Glazier and the Wilmington Blue Rocks

Infielder Nicky Lopez is one of four Royals prospects on the preliminary roster for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League, which begins play on October 10. Lopez has had a solid season, hitting .283/.353/.364 with 2 HR 38 RBI and 21 steals in 123 games split between Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas. He was originally a fifth-round pick out of Creighton in the 2016 draft.

Lopez will be joined be catcher Nick Dini, outfielder Elier Hernandez, and pitcher Zach Lovvorn. Dini was a 14th round pick in 2015 out of Wagner College, and hit .310/.370/.415 with 4 HR 36 RBI in 84 games between Lexington and Northwest Arkansas. Hernandez signed a $3.05 million bonus out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, and is enjoying his best pro season this year at age 22. He has hit .317/.355/.489 with 5 HR 37 RBI in 46 games between Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas, missing time with injuries. Lovvorn has a 4.66 ERA in 114 innings for Northwest Arkansas with 92 strikeouts. The 23-year-old right-hander was a 6th-round pick in 2012 out of an Alabama high school.

The Arizona Fall League typically allows teams to showcase their top talent close to the big leagues. This year’s league will include top prospects such as Nationals outfielder Victor Robles, Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker, Braves outfielder Ronal Acuna, and Indians catcher Francisco Mejia. You can see complete rosters here. Last year the Royals sent eight players, include Ryan O’Hearn and Josh Staumont. More players could be sent as rosters continue to be modified.

The Surprise Saguaros will be managed by Spike Owen. The Arizona Fall League runs on a six-week schedule with a championship game scheduled for November 18.

Update: Pitchers Jacob Bodner, Matt Tenuta, Jared Ruxer have been added to the roster.