Lopez 'happy to complete journey' to Majors

August 18th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- During the early innings of Tuesday night’s matchup at Nationals Park, manager Charlie Montoyo turned to and told him there was a chance he might be used as a pinch-hitter. The club’s No. 8 prospect ran down the tunnel and into the batting cage for some last-minute practice.

When he returned -- in the bottom of the third -- his manager told him he would hit an inning later. Welcome to the big leagues, Otto.

He struck out on six pitches, but he isn’t upset with how his first at-bat went. Lopez knows that he will perform better at the plate, because that’s something he can work on. The rookie is just happy to have gotten the first at-bat out of the way, since it meant he’d made it.

“I'm really happy to complete the entire journey,” Lopez said through a team translator. “[From the] Minors to the big leagues, it's very satisfying, and my family is satisfied as well.”

Lopez’s path to the Majors started when he was younger and his family moved to Montreal from the Dominican Republic. His uncle wanted the young slugger to come back to the DR and attend an academy. After a few family meetings, Lopez’s father agreed to a one-year trial: If something came of it Lopez could stay. If not, he would return to Canada.

A week before he was set to return to Montreal with his family, Lopez was told that he had what it takes to make it in the Majors. On July 4, 2016, the Blue Jays signed the free agent to a Minor League contract.

Working his way from Double-A to Triple-A Buffalo this season, Lopez slashed .324/.398/.849 before he was called up to Toronto’s active roster on the heels of George Springer’s return to the 10-day IL.

“When I started [with] the Blue Jays, I used to play second base all the time,” Lopez said. “So that's one of the positions that I feel really comfortable [with]. When I try going in the outfield, it’s been kind of easy for me because of my ability and speed. It helps a lot in those positions.”

During the 2020 season, when there was no Minor League baseball, Lopez worked on his defense in order to develop the ability to play any position. That kind of versatility is why Montoyo wanted him on the roster heading into the final stretch of the season.