As a member of the heralded trio of prospects that came from the Washington Nationals last offseason for Adam Eaton, it’s fair to say Reynaldo Lopez felt the pressure of adjusting to a brand new team and city at only 23 years old. In his second season with the White Sox, Lopez is beginning to feel at home.
“I feel more comfortable and confident right now,” Lopez told reporters through a translator after his first start of the spring.
A two-inning outing against the Cincinnati Reds saw Lopez touch 96 with his fastball. Lopez struggled a bit in the first inning, but felt better about his performance in the second inning. “I think at the beginning I felt a little low energy, but the second inning was much better and I felt good,” Lopez said.
Lopez’s confidence extends well beyond his first outing of 2018. The young right-hander has set some lofty goals for himself this season. “Just have 30 plus outings, get 200 plus innings and to strikeout 200 plus batters this year,” Lopez said.
No one is expecting that kind of performance out of Lopez this year, but his confidence is reassuring at this point in his very young career. He also reiterated that impressive numbers were not his only goals for this year. “Even though I don’t feel I need to prove anything to nobody, I just like to show myself and to prove to myself that I can get better, and I can still develop as a pitcher and a baseball player,” Lopez said. “That’s why I am always trying to find new ways to get better and to improve.” Lopez’s confidence is not unique among this group of young players, a good sign for any organization on the rise.
Lopez was not the only emerging pitcher to take the mound for the White Sox against the Reds. Dane Dunning and Alec Hansen, two pitchers who perhaps saw their stock rise more than any other two prospects last year, also saw some action.
Dunning threw two innings in his second appearance of the spring, giving up two hits and no runs. Alec Hansen, the former second round pick out of Oklahoma, made his spring debut today. Throwing 1.2 innings, he allowed three runs on three hits, but also struck out three. Hansen has never pitched above A+ Winston-Salem for the White Sox, so his first experience against major league bats has to be viewed as a positive one.
Nicky Delomonico also continued his impressive spring, picking up two more hits and raising his average to .467. Delmonico has been making strong contact and finding holes in the outfield all spring.
On the backfields in Peoria, Arizona the White Sox B team played a game as well. Luis Robert exited the game after getting hit on the head by tag sliding into second. Manager Rick Renteria told reporters that Robert just “got his bell rung” and would be fine. He included that Robert had protested being taken out, but as the Sox have typically done, they exercised caution with their prized prospect.
Other news on the injury front concerning the progress of Micker Adolfo and Eloy Jimenez was positive. Adolfo was able to take at bats today despite a small tear in his UCL that at the moment the team does not think will require surgery. The plan is for Adolfo to begin the year as scheduled, potentially in a designated hitter role at whichever level he starts at. As for Eloy Jimenez and his knee that held him out again today, Renteria told reporters he is progressing. He did not offer an exact diagnosis but said it was some pain in the top of his knee. They expect him back fully healthy soon.
Tomorrow the White Sox take on the defending National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers at 2:05. Righty Miguel Gonzalez gets the start.