07/20/2017 Update: Pablo Lopez was traded to the Miami Marlins in a 4-player deal for RP David Phelps. Scouting report left as is from May 27th look while Lopez was on the Mariners Hi-A squad.
May 27th, 2017. Pablo Lopez made the start against the San Jose Giants (SFG Hi-A) and tossed 6 innings of 3-ER ball on 8H, 0BB and 6K.
Scouting Report Framework
Org/Level: SEA, Hi-A
Lopez was signed as an international FA in 2012 by the Mariners at the ripe age of 16 years old. The son of two doctors in his native Zulia, Venezuela, Lopez needed Tommy John surgery at the age of 18. Since then, pitching coaches of Lopez's have lauded his level of focus and body control which Lopez has credited to his recovery process coming back from TJ. Lopez speaks 4 languages fluently.
Calm and within himself at all times. Low-easy temperment and always under control. Sometimes too zoned in on the mound and late to react on defense.
Strong, developed lower 1/2 with a shorter/narrower torso. A bit of a softer physique that could add a bit of strength but appears to be a non-issue for the future.
Athleticism - Good
Moves fairly well on flat ground, but seems to lack a quick first step. More smooth in movement than quick. Should improve with more experience in terms of defense and awareness. There is something special about Lopez's wrist strength/flexibility that enables him to have such a loose delivery with such excellent control at the same time. Would likely translate to ++ spin numbers over time.
Delivery - Fair
Works from the extreme 1B side of the rubber. High leg lift and hip turn (no kick or sweep), plants straight toward home, late in the delivery. Repeats fairly well but has more difficulty in the stretch with more of a hitch in the gather. 1.32s to home from the stretch.
Arm Action - Excellent
Loose, slow arm action with soft/gradual deceleration on the back end. Wide loop breaking just below the waist to a wide 3/4 release. Easy easy velocity. 91-92 looks like he's throwing warmup pitches.
Deception - Good
Deceptive velocity within the arm/delivery. Such a slow/loose arm action generating 93-95 mph with life through the zone throws off a batter for at least 1-2x through the order.
Pitchability/Feel - Fair
More developmental in his approach. Will repeat pitches he doesn't execute and telegraph his plan at the plate. Could improve in the future, but blw avg right now.
Velo: 89-95, 92 avg.
Movement: 2SM and 4SM. 2SM varies from moderate run and sink at 89 to sharp/biting run at 92, 4SM has a bit of natural cut to it.
Use: Varies greatly with armspeed. Shows good capacity to elevate the fastball and employ a 4SM up. Works his 2SM low/in to RHH and can pitch the 4SM up off of that.
Velo: 79-86, 83 avg.
Movement: Minimum break that hangs arm-side. Flashes a better sweeping shape low and glove-side. More side-to-side than any true depth or tilt.
Use: Still figuring out the kind of arm-speed and grip he wants to use. It's awfully optimistic, but I see a really talented arm/wrist combination and a fair enough understanding of his control that leads me to think the slider will get to a useable place as his 3rd pitch.
Velo: 81-83, 81 avg.
Movement: Moderate arm-side run with flashes of a sharper/harder movement
Use: Tended to float high and armside. Began with an even slower arm on the changeup's delivery. Generally improved over the course of the outing. Similar to fastball and slider, shows the capacity to execute a decent changeup which will really play off of his fastball/delivery.
Prioritizes strikes above all else. Execution of his command/delivery impact the life and movement on his pitches, but he shows an excellent feel for the zone and its edges with all 3 pitches. See as his best tool moving forward as he gains more reps and consistency within his command and delivery.
Pablo Lopez is a young RHS seen in hi-A with a pure definition of arm talent. Lopez has a loose, fluid arm that he is still developing. Coupled with good control, my look showed an exercise in Lopez stretching out his own limits/abilities. Even as Lopez sits 91-92 with his fastball, he shows such a slowed down delivery and flashes more, he looks like the kind of arm that has the ability to speed/tighten up bit by bit over the next couple of seasons. My optimism with Lopez is entirely based on the ease of his arm-action coupled with elite-level body control on the mound. Lopez has established such a solid foundation of strike-throwing and can incrementally build upon that.
I ultimately see Lopez as a future backend starter with the kind of arm that could also pick up a long relief role when needed. Fairly similar to how Seattle's using their own Ariel Miranda right now as well. Strong, strong Role 4 starter. If the slider developed more, I could easily put a Role 5 on Lopez, I just didn't see the kind of ceiling on that pitch I was looking for. Will monitor closely in coming seasons.
Role: 4 (Starter)