The Toronto Blue Jays need an upgrade at 2nd base. Could Buffalo Bison Christian Lopes could be the solution?
To call 2nd base an issue for the Blue Jays might be a stretch but it is definitely a position with question marks associated with it.
Since joining the Blue Jays organization the incumbent Devon Travis has held the tag of everyday 2nd baseman. He hits for average and shows above average extra base power. He plays passable defense. He has had his struggles at the plate and in the field but they pale in comparison to struggles he’s had to stay healthy.
With Devon Travis back on the disabled list, the loyal fans and media have started to look for a replacement for the oft-injured Travis. Manager John Gibbons continues to turn to Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney; unfortunately, this dynamic duo has skill sets better suited to the bench.
I’m not ripping on either of the Blue Jays utility infielders. They’ve performed well at times, covering injuries across the diamond. Barney covered for Josh Donaldson (calf), Goins covered for Troy Tulowitzki (hamstring), and both have covered for Travis.
The pair has played a combined 115 games. That’s not something you want from a guy expected to give the regulars the odd day off (Barney) and guy that appeared on his way out of town, or the very least Buffalo at the end of spring training (Goins). Neither provides much at the plate but have come up with the odd clutch hit while providing solid glove work.
The rumor mill has started to churn out potential trades the Blue Jays may or may not be involved in as they look for a more permanent fix at the keystone.
I think that a solution is waiting in the wings in the form of Christian Lopes.
Like Dwight Smith Jr., who was filling in nicely for the injured Ezequiel Carrera, Lopes was drafted by Toronto in 2011 and reached Triple-A for the first time in 2017.
With the Bisons Christian Lopes had an outstanding April batting .275 with 4 doubles, a home run and 8 runs batted in to go along with 3 stolen bases in 21 games. Not a bad first month in Triple-A for a guy that spent the past 3 seasons working his way up from Lansing.
The 24-yr-old Lopes struggled in May, making his outstanding April look like a fluke. In 23 May games Lopes batted just .218 but managed to hit 5 doubles, a triple and a home run while driving in 7 runs. Despite the low batting average, Lopes maintained a .300+ OBP and .330+ slugging percentage.
With one really good month and one not so good month on his Triple-A resume, Lopes needed to rebound with a solid June (I’m guilty of writing him off in May).
With June drawing to a close Lopes has batted .379 in 22 games. He has hit 9 doubles, a triple, and a homerun while driving in 10 RBI. It looks as though Lopes will close out the month with a plus 1.000 OPS as he is currently sporting a .449 OBP and .591 SLG.
For the season Lopes is hitting .283/.352/.416 with 18 doubles, 2 triples, and 3 long balls. He has 30 runs and 25 runs batted in while stealing 13 bases.
It appears that Lopes’ development has taken him from fringe to prospect in 2017. He will never be a power bat or gold glove candidate but he has a chance to post average marks across the board.
Lopes has never been a guy with a lot of swing and miss in his game. He walks about 10% of the time and strikeouts about 15% of the time. With the Bisons he is posting a 9.1 BB% and 14 K%. He looks like someone that can hit 20-30 doubles, 5 HR, and post .300+ OBP. Lopes has added a speed element to his game this year with a career-high 13 stolen base which fits nicely batting in the lower third of the lineup……if given a chance. Heck, if Ian Parmley is getting a shot why not Lopes, Christian not Tim.
*Featured Image Credit: slgckgc UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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