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Top Prospect Alert

Felipe Lopez -- By Robert Sherry

One of the top players in the minors, the 19-year-old Lopez leads the pack in a Blue Jays system blessed with an abundance of middle infielders.

Originally a first round selection (#8 overall) in the 1998 draft, this switch-hitter spent all of 1999 at Hagerstown in the South Atlantic League, where he compiled some impresive numbers for someone his age (.277, 14 HR, 80 RBI, 27 2B 4 3B, 87 R, 61 BB, 157 SO, and 21 SB in 537 AB). However, he also did rack up the errors (32). This and the high strikeouts are common for young players so I am not too concerned over them.

At 6-foot and 175 pounds, Lopez is similar to the new wave of shortstops that are being produced. He has the strong bat which in the past you normally wouldn't see from his position. He does project to have good power, but I'm not going to put him in the Nomar Garciaparra/ Alex Rodriguez class, atleast not yet. I think, say, 20 homers per season could be possible, like what Derek Jeter has begun to do in New York the past couple of seasons. Lopez has the athletic ability, hands, and arm to be a very good fielder also.

With the likes of Tony Batista doing a very good job in Toronto, and with others like Michael Young and Cesar Izturis also one the way, the Jays really don't have to rush Lopez to the majors. He's currently at Double-A Knoxville and I think I full season there, followed by a year at Triple-A Syracuse, would probably be the best for him. If things work out, he could be a starter and eventual star right around the age of 21.


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