Otto López

From BR Bullpen

Otto Ariel López

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 160 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Otto López won a batting title in the minors and had the unusual distinction of representing two different countries in international competition in the same year, all before making his major league debut in 2021.

López was born in the Dominican Republic and spent the early part of his childhood there. When his father got a job in Montréal, he moved there at age 10 and played hockey, basketball and badminton in addition to the baseball he had learned in his homeland. [1] He returned to the Dominican Republic at age 14 at the advice of his uncle in order to develop his baseball game further and with a better chance of being signed there without having to go through the MLB draft, as he would have had to do as a Canadian resident. [2] As a result, his early life course was very similar to that of Oscar Taveras, and like Abraham Toro, he is fluently trilingual in English, French and Spanish.

He was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays on July 4, 2016. In 2017, he hit .275/.361/.360 for the GCL Blue Jays, playing 2B, SS, 3B, CF and LF. In 2018, he produced at a .297/.390/.434 clip for the Vancouver Canadians and .364/.382/.636 in 7 games for the Bluefield Blue Jays, again jumping all over the field (adding RF to his other five positions). He was 9th in the Northwest League in batting average, between Luke Morgan and Andy Yerzy (who would be his teammate for Team Canada a year later), was 4th in OBP (between Owen Miller and Cade Harris) and tied for 6th in triples (4). He was named one of the NWL's All-Star outfielders alongside Morgan and Diego Rincones. [3]

López played for Team Canada in the 2019 Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament, going 5 for 10 with a double, run and RBI. He did not qualify for the tourney batting leaders or he would have tied Christian Correa for 2nd in average, behind MVP Garabez Rosa. Canada won a spot in the 2019 Pan American Games. [4] He hit .324/.371/.425 for the 2019 Lansing Lugnuts with 20 steals in 35 tries and 5 triples. He played shortstop primarily, fielding .925 there. He won the Midwest League batting title by .012 over Alek Thomas. He was also 9th in OBP (between Jose Fermin and Joseph Pena), 6th in slugging (between David Fry and Luke Heyer), 3rd in OPS (behind Thomas and Gabe Snyder), 1st in hits (145, 11 ahead of Andy Weber) and tied Mike Siani for 2nd in caught-stealing. He did not make the MWL All-Star team as Wander Franco got the nod. Baseball America named him the #18 prospect in the MWL, between Brice Turang and Riley Thompson. [5]

Otto then played for the Dominican national team in the 2019 Premier 12. While numerous people had played for multiple national teams, it was extremely rare to represent two nations in the same year - perhaps the only other one to do it was Philippe Lecourieux, who played for New Caledonia and France in 2007. In the Premier 12, he hit .250/.308/.250 with 3 runs in 3 games while handling three chances error-free at second base. [6] He was one of at least four 2019 minor league batting champs to play in the event, alongside the USA's Jake Cronenworth, C.J. Chatham and Drew Waters. With the Leones del Escogido that winter, he batted .289/.360/.311, but he then had to sit out the 2020 season when the minor leagues were shut down by the Coronavirus pandemic.

When he returned to action in 2021, he was playing in AA with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats after a second stint with Escogido during the winter ball season. He tore the cover off the ball in the re-named Double-A Northeast, batting .330/.397/.457 in 69 games with 52 runs. He was promoted to the Buffalo Bisons at the beginning of August and hit .282 with 13 runs in his first 11 games when on August 17th, he was called up with the Blue Jays when George Springer was placed on the injured list. He made his debut the same day, striking out against Erick Fedde as a pinch-hitter for Alek Manoah in a 12-6 loss to the Washington Nationals. It was his only appearance of the season at the major league level, and he did not get to play the field. He finished his AAA season at .289 in 43 games. Overall in 113 minor league games, his slash line was .315/.379/.437, with 5 homers and 64 RBIs.

Lopez played for the Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican League in the 2021-22 winter league season. He was injured at the start of the 2022 minor league season, and had to make a rehab stop with Dunedin before returning to Buffalo in early May. He was called up to Toronto a couple of times in June, but mostly sat on the bench as a safety blanket in case someone was unable to finish the game. He only appeared in one game during these two spells, playing in centerfield against the Chicago White Sox on June 21st, being inserted in the 12th inning after other substitutions had emptied the Jays' bench. The Sox scored a run with two outs to end the game before he could either field a ball or come to bat.

Sources[edit]

  1. Lansing Lugnuts article
  2. ibid.
  3. 2019 Baseball Almanac, pg. 391
  4. 2019 Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament Stats Report
  5. 2020 Baseball Almanac, pg. 400
  6. 2019 Premier 12

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