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Bulldog Jose Lopez Could Surface In Reds' Rotation



Double-A Pensacola pitching coach Danny Darwin began the season with a pair of aces in Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle.

He finished with another he felt was in that category—even if righthander Jose Lopez hasn’t garnered the outside attention of the other two.

"He's got that appeal when he walks out on the mound that we've got a chance to win that ballgame. That's what I tell every one of them: be that guy,” Darwin said. "I was fortunate to play with Roger (Clemens) and Nolan (Ryan), and it's a different feeling when you walk into that clubhouse and be that guy.”

The 24-year-old Lopez started the season at high Class A Daytona, going 2-4, 2.84 ERA in nine starts. He was even better in Pensacola, going 7-2, 2.48 in 15 starts and 17 appearances. In 147 total innings he struck out 143 and walked 49 while allowing just 12 home runs.

Castillo and Mahle both moved up from Pensacola, Castillo straight to the majors and Mahle to Triple-A Louisville before finishing the season in Cincinnati. Lopez may not be far behind.

The Reds drafted Lopez out of Seton Hall in the sixth round in 2014 despite the fact he missed his junior year after having Tommy John surgery. The Reds rehabbed him and let him start at Rookie-level Billings in 2015 before playing at both Class A levels in 2016.

When Lopez reached Pensacola at the end of May, Darwin shortened his delivery. Using a 91-94 mph fastball and a good slider with an average changeup mixed in, he dominated the Southern League. He went 5-1, 1.43 in his final 11 starts, holding hitters to a .166 average.

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"He's a bulldog out there, he pitches well on the inner half of the plate, he's not going to back down from anybody,” Darwin said. "He's out there to beat your ass every time. That's what you like about guys like that.”

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