It will be interesting to see where Lopez ends up playing. The Royals already have Adalberto Mondesi at shortstop and Whit Merrifield primarily playing second, although Merrifield can play all over the field. Dayton Moore urged patience with Lopez in addressing the media last week, with Rustin Dodd writing “the Royals do not see an obvious way for Lopez to receive everyday at-bats in the major leagues” and that Merrifield moving to the outfield raised concerns about the possibilty of injury.
There were some very interesting circumstances surrounding Nicky Lopez’ call up, including an apology from General Manager Dayton Moore to the Royals’ beat writers:
We just had a conference call with Dayton Moore and he apologized for misleading the beatwriters: "It was not intentional. I didn't expect this to happen this fast. I anticipated end of May, early June, based on all the moving parts. But things change in a minute in this game."— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) May 13, 2019
Dayton Moore also said he talked to Whit Merrifield, who was willing to move to the outfield to make room for Nicky Lopez. Also said Whit was very excited to have Lopez come up. "It doesn't mean we've closed the door on Whit playing some second base."— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) May 13, 2019
Some of those pieces are still in the minor leagues, and some could be in Kansas City soon. Nicky Lopez has a .463 on-base percentage at Triple-A Omaha and could debut later this summer. But the timeline might be later rather than sooner.
There’s a specific reason for this: For now, the Royals do not see an obvious way for Lopez to receive everyday at-bats in the major leagues. The club has Mondesi and Merrifield at shortstop and second base, respectively, which are Lopez’s two main positions, and they have incentive to keep Merrifield at second base.
The Royals did not want to move Whit Merrifield to the outfield on a full-time basis, fearing the role would put too much pressure on his legs. They have Adalberto Mondesi entrenched at shortstop. They did not want to call up Lopez to play three or four times per week.
The decision, Moore said, had little to do with Chris Owings, the struggling utility player whose batting average had dipped below .150. The club had stated earlier this month that Owings’ playing time would be reduced to a part-time role. To put Lopez on the roster required more than replacing Owings. It also demanded an every-day opening in the infield.
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K.C. would be more apt to try Glenn Sparkman in the rotation. Scott Barlow has been an incredible find for the bullpen, and there’s no need to mess with that. Remember, the Royals are trying to find pieces for a shutdown bullpen again, which is what made them such a menace to the league from 2013-16. It’s way early, but Barlow looks like he could be a Wade Davis-type addition -- he has made hitters look silly lately.
Over at Royals Farm Report .com:
- Check out Jordan Gish’s update of the 2018 draft crop of college pitchers
- Eric Liu breaks down the Lexington Legends dominant rotation
- Read more on Nicky Lopez
Perhaps the most amazing part of the previous paragraph isn’t the fact that Owings ranks at the bottom of nearly every preferred offensive metric. It’s that the Royals have given him enough plate appearances that he is “qualified.” This is a problem that has been systemic in the Royals organization ever since Dayton Moore arrived nearly 13 years ago, particularly in the middle infield. Tony Pena, Jr. Yuniesky Betancourt. Willie Bloomquist. Chris Getz. Alcides Escobar. And now Owings. It’s a who’s who of offensive ineptitude.
Back when I started writing online, the first interview I did was with @nick3lopez at @KingsofKauffman. Everything you here about him is true. He couldn’t have been nicer. It’ll be awesome to watch him with the Royals now.— Patrick Brennan (@paintingcorner) May 13, 2019
Your song of the day is “Desperado” by the Eagles.